UNDER THE GUNS
A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
THE CIVIL WAR
MRS. ANNIE WITTENMYER
Author of " Woman's Work for Jesus," " A Jewelled Ministry,"
"History of the Temperance Crusade," "The Women of
THE Reformation," an Historical Work, Etc.
MRS. GENERAL U. S. GRANT
E. B. STILLINGS & CO., PUBLISHERS
55 SUDBURY STREET
By Annie Wittenmyer,
ARMY NURSES OF OUR RECENT CIVIL WAR,
WHO WALKED AS ANGELS OF MERCY ON MANY
BATTLE-FIELDS, AND MINISTERED TO
THE SICK, WOUNDED, AND DYING, IN LOATHSOME,
AND TO THE
NOBLE WOMEN OF IOWA
WHO SO GENEROUSLY SUSTAINED ME IN MY ARMY WORK J
AND TO THE
PATRIOTIC WOMEN OF AMERICA
who sent their husbands, brothers, and sons to
the defence of their country with a
devotion and courage
equal to that of any grecian mother or roman matron,
is respectfully dedicated by the
IN preparing this little volume for publication,
no attempt whatever has been made to re-
cord, as facts of history, the military movements
of the army during our recent Civil War. The
great captains, who led the Union forces through
the terrible conflict from Fort Sumter to Appo-
mattox, have already covered, to a large extent,
the military history of the war.
My purpose has been simply to bring out in
connection with these great military events, with
which they were so intimately connected, a few
of the many incidents and heart histories that
were crowded into my own life, from April 20,
1861, to Nov. 23, 1865.
The stories and reminiscences in this book are
true to life, every one of them. They are told
just as they occurred, without any attempt at
literary embellishment ; and most of them can
be substantiated by living witnesses.
Camps and hospitals were established near my
own home in Keokuk, Iowa, early in April, 1861.
I began at once my ministrations to the sick
in these newly established hospitals, and, during
my daily visits, closed the eyes of the first Iowa
soldier who died in the war. From that time on
till the close of the war I was actively engaged
all along the lines.
I was loyally and generously sustained by the
women of Iowa ; was elected by the Iowa Legis-
lature sanitary agent of the State ; was commis-
sioned by Iowa's grand old war governor, Samuel
J. Kirkwood ; was furnished by Secretary Stan-
ton with a pass to all parts of the field, and gov-
ernment transportation for myself and supplies.
This ofificial order of Mr. Stanton's was supple-
mented by the following charge : —
"It is especially enjoined upon all officers to furnish this
lady every facility in carrying out her generous purposes, it
being shown that she is worthy of great respect."
I had also the co-operation of the Sanitary and
Christian Commissions, and the chief medical offi-
cers and government ofiicials, so that I had un-
usual facilities for doing good.
I was greatly indebted to General and Mrs.
Grant for sympathy and aid. When Mrs. Grant
was at her husband's headquarters the place was
a haven of rest for me, and a welcome always
awaited me. Indeed, Mrs. Grant would have
joined me in the work, but her husband was
afraid her strength and sympathies would be
overtaxed. During these brief visits I learned
to appreciate the unselfishness and noble quali-
ties of General Grant, and the strength and pu-
rity of his character ; and the loveliness and
sterling worth of Mrs. Grant, and her wifely
I was also under great obligations to General
John A. Logan, who was ever ready to aid me.
When it was almost impossible to get from
Bridgeport to Chattanooga, he sent me up in a
little steamer which he loaded with' my supplies.
Later, I met Mr. Orson, the president of the
United Telegraph Association ; and General Lo-
gan introduced me with such kindly appreciative
words, that without a hint from either of us, he
filled out an order allowing me ''to telegraph
free to the end of the war." I still have that
little order in my possession.
It is due our brave soldiers that I should say
that I felt as safe in their midst as I would have
done in my own home, even though at times I
was the only woman in the midst of an army of
twenty thousand fighting men, as was the case
at Milliken's Bend, after the repulse of General
Sherman at Haines' Bluff.
Not one impertinent or rude word was ever
spoken to me in all those years. No purer or
grander army ever marched to the music of fife
and drum than the army that stood for the de-
fence of our flag and the unity of our government
from 1861 to 1865.
A woman could walk in their midst in white,
and a little child would have been as safe as in its
As I was all along the lines from Vicksburg to
Petersburg, and was on some of the bloodiest bat-
tle-fields, and as I followed Sherman's army along
the fiery lines from Chattanooga to Atlanta, I
necessarily had to pass through many perils, and
witness many exciting scenes. A few of these
stories I have now thought best to publish.
For more than twenty years my friends have
urged their publication ; but I shrank from the
task, because of their personal character.
In giving these simple, true stories to the pub-
lic, I shall hope that the same earnest, charita-
ble spirit will be exercised by my readers as
I manifested toward the sick and wounded dur-
ing my army work.
Sanatoga, Pa., Dec, 3, 1894.
THE author of this most interesting and his-
toric volume, Mrs. Annie Wittenmyer, I
very often met whilst on my frequent visits to
the headquarters of my husband, General Ulysses
She there on her mission of mercy as she
came to the front with supplies for the sick and
wounded ; I there simply to give the general a
glimpse of his dear ones (some of the children
being always with me). And I would gladly
have joined Mrs. Wittenmyer in all her works
of devotion ; but the general forbade it, saying,
when I returned from the hospitals ladened with
petitions and heart-breaking stories, "Julia, cease,
cease ; I cannot listen ; I hear this all day, every
day, and I must have some rest from all this sor-
row and misery. If you insist on going again to
the hospitals, I will have to send you home."
Mrs. Wittenmyer was ever deeply interested
in her efforts to relieve suffering ; ever appeal-
IN TROD UC T/ON'.
ing: for the discharo:e of the brave men who were
made helpless by their wounds ; ever braving dan-
gers and enduring hardships in the performance
of her self-assumed, patriotic heart duties.
I used to look upon this brave, heroic woman
with profound respect and admiration, which, if it
were possible, has grown the greater in the thirty
years that have passed since then.
JULIA DENT GRANT.
2108 R Street, Washington, D.C,
A'oz'. 27, 1894.
A Boy sent by Express, C. O. D 5
A But'ful Guv'ment Mule 226
A Fighting Editor 86
A Painful Accident 128
A Perilous Ride 1 1
A Rich Reward for Services — Saving the Life of a Brother, 72
A Terrible Storm at Chattanooga 51
A Visit from General Grant and General McPherson . . . 174
A Visit to Parson Brownlow 68
A Visit to Captain Walke's Gunboat 190
A Woman wounded in Battle 17
A Young Nurse at Gettysburg 224
Army Life at Helena, Arkansas 48
Army Tricks 41
Blowing up of Fort Hill 102
Braving Dangers 21
Bursting of a Shell behind my Carriage 13 1
Could you get me a Raw Onion and some Salt ? . . . . 230
Exhibitions of Mother-love 142
Fred D. Grant — The Brave Orderly at Vicksburg .... 204
General Grant's Kindness 43
Getting Two Thousand Sick and Wounded out of Helena . 106
Hardships of Camp-life at Vicksburg 125
Healed Soul and Body 152
He died cheering the Flag 237
Hospital Abuses — Putting Logwood in the Coffee . . . 193
How I got the Cotton 244
How Mother Bickerdyke cut Red Tape 82
How Pres. Lincoln received the News of Sheridan's Victory . 239
I have the Best Mother in the World 160
I have the Comforter 98
Johnnie Clem 36
Liberty Hicks iSi
Meeting a Rebel Woman at Nashville 134
Memorial Day 272
Men who commanded Themselves and did not swear . . . 232
My First Interview with General Grant I
Not Time to send for the Colonel 66
Reminiscences of General Grant 202
Running the Blockade at Vicksburg 92
Saved by a Bird 78
Saved by Lemonade 62
Saving the Life of Young Pike 170
Searching for the Dead 164
Secretary Stanton's Generous Gift 251
Sharing Poor Quarters with Dorothy L. Dix 120
The American Republic — its Glories and its Dangers . . 268
The Clock at Vicksburg 115
The First Soldiers wounded in the Civil War 89
The Hospitals of Vicksburg at the Time of the Surrender . 186
The Hospital at Point of Rocks, Va 209
The New York Herald Reporter who lived for Two Worlds. 156
The Sad Fate of Jennie Wade 206
The Sequel to *' Uncle Tom's Cabin " 247
The Special-diet Kitchen Work 259
The Surrender of Vicksburg 147
The Sweet Singer of the Hospitals 217
The Wonderful Potato-patch 58
Trading Tobacco for Coffee 183
Two Dreadful Days on the Battlefield. Shiloh .... 28
Very Timely Arrest 166
Visiting Hospitals under the Guns 138
We honor Our Grand Old Heroes 4
A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
THE CIVIL WAR
UNDER THE GUNS.
MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH
A LARGE army had been thrown in and about
Cairo, 111., and General S. R. Curtis of Iowa
gave me a letter and a pass to go down and visit
the hospitals there. General Grant was in com-
mand, with headquarters at Cairo. Fortunately
for me, I had friends at that point. The great
hospitals were at Mound City, six miles above. I
missed the boat that plied between the two places
at irregular hours, and my friends proposed that
we call upon General Grant. We found the mod-
est, quiet, uncrowned hero busy at his desk, with
his staff and orderlies about him. I was painfully
conscious that I had no business of sufficient im-
portance to warrant such an intrusion upon the
man who stood between us and the army threat-
ening that city that hour. I had not thought
of that before coming. But I felt very grateful
2 ^1 WOMAN'S KEM/iVISCENCES
to my friend, who came at once to my aid, by
explaining that I had come down from St. Louis
to visit the hospitals, and was the bearer of a
letter and pass from General Curtis, and that I
also had a pass from General Fremont, and had
merely called to pay my respects.
We fell at once into pleasant conversation, and
I found that the General was personally ac-
quainted with friends and relatives of my own.
'* I will send you up to Mound City," he said.
*' Oh, don't trouble yourself. I can go up to-
morrow," I urged.
But he was writing an order, and soon de-
spatched an orderly with it to Captain somebody.
Immediately my pride took alarm. What if he
should send me to Mound City on one of those
screaming, whistling little tug-boats }
" Have you met my medical director } " he
"No, I have not met him," I was forced to
'* I will send him up with you," and an orderly
was despatched to command his presence. Di-
rectly the boat was reported as ready ; and the
General himself accompanied me to the boat
— the City of McnipJiis — the largest and finest
steamer on the Mississippi River.
The General simply said, " Take this lady to
Mound City, and remain till she is ready to return.
Wait for the Medical Director, and till I leave the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 3
boat." So I was for a little space of time the
commander of the biggest steamer on the Mis-
sissippi River. As I walked the length of that
great boat, so rich and gaudy in tinsel and cur-
tains and furniture, the patriotic blood coursed
hotly through my veins. Why this extravagance?
Why this pomp and display.? And when the
medical director, who was supposed to be in
charge of all of the sick and dying in that great
army, came in full military dress, with gloves and
sash and sword and spurs, my heart sank down
to zero. But I was not long in reaching the
truth, and changing my mind. A dozen boats or
more had just been impressed into the United
States service, and lay there at the wharf with
steam up. They had not yet been dismantled ;
and it was the kindly, proper thing to do to
send me to Mound City, and it was military
etiquette for the medical director to dress as
he did. I was afterwards on the same boat
many times ; once after Sherman's defeat at
Yazoo, when there were seven hundred and fifty
wounded and sick soldiers on board. General
Grant was just gathering these boats, and these
forces, that he might move on Fort Donelson.
A WO MAX'S REMINISCENCES
WE HONOR OUR GRAND OLD HEROES.
BY ANNIE WITTENMEYl
We honor our grand old heroes
Who stood in the thick of the fight,
Where deadly missiles were flying,
And valiantly fought for the right.
They stood with God in the conflict.
They fought on God's side in the fray;
The Lord and his angels helped them,
And Freedom and Right won the day.
Sacred to Freedom forever
Is the soil where they fought and bled ;
No bondsman shall wear a shackle,
No tyrant shall lift up his head.
Above the flags of all nations
Our beautiful banner floats high;
Its stars like the stars of heaven.
And its blue as blue as the sky.
Long may it wave in its beauty.
The symbol of Freedom and Right;
Not a star be lost from its azure,
Not a blot stain its spotless white !
OF THE CIVIL WAR.
A BOY SENT BY EXPRESS, C. O. D.
IN the winter of 1862, just before General Grant
moved upon Fort Henry and Fort Donelson,
I went out to Sedalia, Mo., with a heavy lot of
, Sedalia is 188 miles south-west of St. Louis, and
was an important military station at that time.
The people in that section were very disloyal
The train on which I journeyed was fired into
three times the day I made the journey, by "bush-
whackers," men who carried on an irregular war-
The train was well guarded. There were at
least fifty well-armed Union soldiers on board to
guard it, who took turns on the platform, ready
to spring off, gun in hand, if the train were at-
tacked. But when a volley was fired into the
train, before the engineer could stop it, and the
soldiers could get started in pursuit, the enemy
had mounted their horses, and were far away.
When the second volley crashed into the train,
a bullet passed through the window beside me,
6 A JVOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
and whizzed very near to my eyes. If it had
come a little closer, it would have gone through
both of them. Fortunately I had just leaned
back against the seat ; for if I had been sitting in
an upright position, as I was a few moments
before, the ball would have gone through my head.
A mother and her little girl, who was five or
six years old, sat in the seat in front of me. The
poor little child was so terrified that she tried to
hide under the seat. Her appeals, as she lifted
her beautiful tear-stained face, were very touching.
" Do you think they'll fire again, mamma .^ "
*' I hope not, my darling," and the mother would
tenderly cover her with the skirts of her dress,
and try to soothe her.
*' O mamma! do get down on the floor; if you
don't, you might get killed."
It was pitiful to see a child in such terror,
crouching on the floor.
We did not reach Sedalia till midnight, and it
was not till the train drew up at the station that
the child could be comforted.
The next morning early I went into the nearest
hospital. The building was an old, dilapidated
frame structure, that had been used as a store.
Scores of wounded and sick men were crowded
into these poor narrow quarters.
But it is not my purpose just now to speak of
them, or of the hospital management, but of a
child I found there.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 7
He was lying on a cot in a little back room.
They called him '' Willie." He said he was " goin'
on eight ; " but if he was that old, he was very
small of his age. His face was wondrous fair
and beautiful, and his hair hung in golden ringlets
about his head. He had been very ill, and was
still too weak to leave his bed. But he was
bright and happy, and a great favorite with the
men, who, lying on their beds, whittled toys for
Willie with their pocket-knives out of anything
they could utilize for that purpose, such as sticks
I took a great deal of pains to ascertain the
facts about the boy. He was a fatherless, mother-
less child, who had followed the soldiers when
they marched away from the town where he was
temporarily staying. No one cared, and no one
followed to bring him back, and so he went on
The simple story, as he told it, seemed to be
sustained by the facts I afterwards gathered.
*' I wanted to go to the war," he said ; " I had
no mother, and I did not want to stay at that
place. I did not like the people, so when the
soldiers went to the war I went too. Some of
the men said, that first day, ' Little boy, you had
better run back home ; ' but I told them I had no
home, that my mother was dead, and that I was
not going back ; that I was going to the war, so
they put me in a wagon to ride. At night I had
8 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
no place to sleep ; but a man who said he had a
little boy at home, about as big as me, said I could
sleep with him, and he hugged me up under his
" Then after that I had a place in a wagon,
the colonel said I might. Sometimes I rode
on the horses behind the big officers. But they
wouldn't let me go to fight ; they made me stay
back in the wagon. I didn't like that ; I wanted
to go to the fights."
A few days after I found Willie I was in the
hospital, when a gentleman came in seeking some
one. He was from Ohio, He happened to see
Willie, and was wonderfully attracted to the child,
and Willie seemed to take a great fancy to the
gentleman. He came daily to see Willie during
his stay in Sedalia. ''This child," he said to me
one day, with tears in his eyes, "looks so much
like my own boy, my only child, who died a few
months ago, that I want to adopt him if my wife
will consent. But her heart is so nearly broken
by grief, that she may shrink from the plan."
I told him that I, too, had taken a great fancy
to the boy, and had determined that he should
have a good home, and that through my friend.
General Curtis, who commanded at St, Louis, I
should hold the boy till the best of references were
furnished. To this he made no objections ; and as
soon as he reached St. Louis he sent the very
best indorsements, furnishing the most ample
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 9
evidence that he was in every way worthy of such
a charge, as he was a wealthy Christian gentle-
man. Dr. Irwin, Acting Medical Director, readily
concurred ; and it was agreed that if, when the boy
was able to travel, they wanted him, he should be
Soon after he reached home, a telegram came :
''All right — send Willie by express, C. O. D."
(collect on delivery). When the contents of the
telegram became known, there was great excite-
ment among the patients. How could they part
with Willie } And yet as he was to have a good
home they rejoiced with Willie, who was delighted
with the news that he was to go.
As soon as he was able to travel, we prepared
him for the journey. His name and address, and
name and address of the gentleman to whom we
were sending him, were written with ink on
white muslin, and sewed to his coat and jacket,
and on the shawl we wrapped about him, and on
the blanket we bundled him up in.
A stalwart expressman came for him, and, after
giving a regular receipt for him, took him up in
his arms to carry him away. Dr. Irwin and the
surgeons of the hospital, and even the nurses and
cooks, all came to bid Willie good-by. His fare-
wells were very touching.
When he was carried from his little room out
into the main ward, a few golden curls lay out on
the folds of the coarse gray blanket, and his
lO A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
laughing eyes turned kindly from one to another,
as they called to him : '* Good-by, Willie ! " " Be
a good boy, Willie." ** Don't forget me, Willie."
As we were about to pass through the last
door-way, Willie, who had said *' good-by " to each
one as they greeted him, called out at the top of
his voice, " Goad-by^ everybody.'' There was a
chorus of good-bys in response ; but an Irishman
by the door was heard above them all, as he
said : —
" Good luck to ye now ! and may ye live a hun-
dred years, and get into heaven afore the Divil
has a chance at ye."
We accompanied him to the train, the surgeons
and myself, and saw him safely aboard with his
luncheon ; and we stood there together in silence
as the train pulled out, for a vacancy was felt in
A telegram was received a few days later, telling
us that Willie had arrived safely.
A great deal was crowded into the next few
months. Battle after battle followed. Fort
Henry and Fort Donelson had fallen, Nashville
had surrendered, the bloody struggle at Pittsburg
Landing had taken place, and the Union forces
had taken possession of Corinth, Miss. ; but Willie
was not forgotten.
The gentleman adopted him as his own child,
and his wife was greatly comforted by the pres-
ence and love of little Willie.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. II
A PERILOUS RIDE.
IN digging the ship canal across the point op-
posite Vicksburg, hundreds of men were killed
or wounded in the great trench. By long practice
the gunners on the bluffs of Vicksburg acquired
the ability to drop a shell into the great ditch,
causing terrible slaughter. The heavy guns of
the Union forces answered the enemy's batteries,
but failed to silence them. ''Whistling Dick,"
as we all soon learned to call one great cannon
used by the enemy, kept the music going night
and day. The loud, clear, musical whistle which
accompanied every discharge won for that gun
the attention of all. " Whistling Dick " was a
gun of long range, and was effective in execution,
especially along the canal. But one day, after a
loud, sharp whistle, there was an explosion, and
"Whistling Dick" was heard no more. The work
of death went on, however ; for there were other
effective guns, and the most determined resist-
ance to the project of the Union troops was
The wounded soldiers were taken to a hospital
12 A IVOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
hastily improvised at a point just opposite Vicks-
burg, where, ahhoiigh more than a mile nearer
the enemy, with only the Mississippi River be-
tween them, they were nevertheless comparatively
safe, being protected by a high embankment. I
had been sending supplies to this little hos-
pital with lavish hand. It seemed dreadful that
wounded men should lie there night and day
under the guns of two armies, the battle always
on, the shriek and thunder of shell and shot over
them, and all around them, and shaking the very
earth on which they lay. Weary, homesick, and
suffering, they were isolated from the army and
from all other companionship, except that of the
surgeon and his force of detailed soldiers. But
this surgeon (I have forgotten his name, or I
would mention it with the highest respect) was a
thoughtful and kind-hearted man, who desired the
best for his men and heartily sympathized with
them. One day he came into my quarters on the
Sanitary boat with radiant face. He had thought
of something which would please his *' boys," and
that was that I should visit them. At first the
thing seemed impossible. The distance was many
miles. I could not go in an ambulance, or on
foot, and the dangers of the journey were appall-
ing. But he had thought of all that, and ex-
plained the whole scheme. He could get a good,
safe horse, and I could ride on a cavalry sad-
dle ; and although there was some water in the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 3
canal, and the banks were steep, the crossing was
entirely safe, and there were places where the
horse could climb.
I could not refuse to go to the men who had
faced the cannon, and gone down wounded and
helpless to the gates of death for my country
and my flag. General Cyrus Bussey, who was
afterwards the Assistant-Secretary of the Depart-
ment of the Interior, and his plucky, lovely little
wife, who is now among the glorified in heaven,
volunteered to accompany me. Mrs. Bussey had
her own horse and a side-saddle. I had a great
raw-boned animal, which looked as though he had
been in several wars, with a good new cavalry
saddle, which some officer had kindly lent for the
occasion. "This horse is good and safe," the sur-
geon explained, by way of apology ; " they say he
wouldn't shy or jump if a shell burst just before
The guns of two armies were screaming over
us when we reached the point which our guide
designated as ''the safe place to cross the canal."
He did not know that some of the barriers at the
mouth of the canal had given way, and that the
water in the canal was several feet deeper than
when he had crossed that morning. The tide was
swift and turbulent ; but the surgeon said cheer-
fully, ''It's perfectly safe ; just follow me." The
next moment his horse went down into the muddy,
swirling flood, and, struggling heroically, swam to
the opposite shore.
14 A I VO MAN'S REMINISCENCES
The surgeon called back to us that he had
missed the crossing, and designated a point a
little higher up, which, as he said, "was perfectly
safe." I had misgivings, but, settling myself well
in the saddle, gave the horse loose rein. He
marched bravely in, and went down into the flood
with a plunge. General Bussey, fearing I would
be drowned, spurred his horse in after me, and
the two brave animals struggled together until we
reached the opposite shore. Thanks to my Ken-
tucky training, I kept the saddle, and the only
damage done was a good drenching.
As General Bussey expressed a wish that Mrs.
Bussey should not attempt to cross, she remained
at a cabin near by, which was somewhat pro-
tected, till we returned.
Reaching the embankment opposite Vicksburg
we scattered, the surgeon taking the lead. I fol-
lowed about fifty yards behind him, and General
Bussey about fifty yards behind me. The road
was fair, and we flew over that stretch at a full gal-
lop. My shaggy, raw-boned steed made good time.
It was a wild ride. We were surrounded by bat-
teries. The mortar boats of the Union army,
placed as near to Vicksburg as possible, were
sending their uncertain shells thundering over our
heads into the doomed city with deafening fury.
The heavy guns along the heights of Vicksburg
were answering the long line of batteries and
heavy mounted guns on our side of the river ;
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 5
and only the river lay between us and the ene-
mies' works. Shot and shell screamed over us.
Sometimes it seemed as if the sky was torn to
pieces above us ; but my horse did not flinch.
On and on we went, in a full gallop. If a gun was
levelled at us that day from any of the near bat-
teries, we were not in range when the shot came
over, and so we reached the hospital in safety.
What shall I say of this hospital } What can I
say of these wounded, suffering men } Language
is inadequate to describe their condition. Long-
ing for home and mother, for human sympathy,
their moans were answered only by the guns.
They longed for quiet and sleep, but the guns of
two armies were thundering night and day over
their heads. How could flesh and blood, brain
and nerve, endure it } My garments were still
dripping, but I went from cot to cot to speak the
words of cheer. The men tried to express their
thanks for my coming in a befitting manner ; but
their '* God bless you for coming ! " was choked
with tears. As I saw those brave men lying
there weak and helpless, and every nerve racked
with the thunders of battle, I could not beat back
my own tears. Indeed, as I live it all over again,
and write of it, the tears will come again, although
more than thirty years have rolled by since that
time. I sobbed out as best I could: ''God bless
you, boys ; keep good courage. I will get you out
of this if it is possible."
1 6 A irOMAX'S REM/X/SCEATES
The return trip was safely made. Again we
swam the canal ; Mrs. Bussey joined us, and we
returned to camp. The next morning I called on
General Grant, and reported the condition of these
wounded men. General Grant was most thought-
ful and careful of his sick and wounded. He took
in the situation at once. Calling Rawlins, he
said, " Those wounded men must be moved from
the Point right away. Send an order to the
medical director to that effect." And that night,
under the cover of the darkness, they were re-
moved to hospitals at Milliken's Bend, twenty-five
miles away from the belching batteries.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 7
A WOMAN WOUNDED IN BATTLE,
A WOMAN who had served as a private soldier
in the ranks was severely wounded and taken
prisoner at Chickamauga. She fell in a charge
made upon the Confederates ; and as the troops
immediately fell back she was left with the other
wounded on the field, in the enemy's lines. As
she was dressed as the other soldiers were, her
sex was not discovered till she was under a sur-
geon's care in the hospital. She was wounded in
the thigh. No bones were broken ; but it was a
deep, ugly flesh wound, as if torn by a fragment
of a shell.
A day or two afterwards she was sent with a
flag of truce into the Union lines.
The sum and substance of the official message
sent with this woman was : ''As the Confederates
do not use women in war, this woman, wounded in
battle, is returned to you." There was great in-
dignation in the regiment to which this woman
belonged ; and officers and men hastened to pro-
test, that, although she had been with them for
more than a year, not one in the regiment suspi-
1 8 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
cioncd that she was a woman. Slic stood the long,
hard marches, did full duty on the picket-line and
in camp, and had fought well in all the battles in
which the regiment took part. She was in the
hospital at Chattanooga for some time, where I
first met her. When she was able to bear the
transportation, she was removed to a hospital at
Nashville. I met her there again and again, and
tried to ascertain why she had enlisted.
" Had you a husband in the regiment .^ " I
** A lover or fr4end .'' "
" No, I didn't know any of them."
''Well, why did you enlist } "
"I thought I'd like camp-life, and I did."
''You did your full share of the hard work, I am
told, marching, going on picket duty, and chop-
ping wood } "
"Yes ; I was put on detail just like the others,
and I never made any excuse. I was awfully
afraid they would find me out, and then I'd have
" But they did not find you out } "
" No ; not till I was wounded. The most I care
about now is that they won't let me go back."
"Where did you come from } and what is your
real name } "
"I don't want to tell, and I sha'n't tell, either."
When she was able to sit up the question of
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 9
clothing became an important one. The surgeon
said, " She must have women's clothes to put on."
We women from the North, by gift and by pur-
chase, provided the necessary outfit for a woman's
wardrobe. To raise some funds for her we had
her photograph taken, first in the uniform of a
private soldier, and then dressed as a woman.
She sold them to soldiers and visitors for twenty-
five cents each, and raised considerable money. I
have the two I purchased, which I have treasured
in my war album all these years. She was stout
and muscular, with heavy features, high cheek
bones, and her black abundant hair was cut very
close. She was perhaps twenty-six or twenty-
eight years old, but when in her military rig
looked like a beardless boy.
The time came at last when she must be dis-
missed from the hospital ; and I was commissioned
by the officers to find out all I could about her,
and where she lived, as she had been more friendly
to me than to the others. The interview was a
long one. I can give only the main points. "The
time has come," I said, ''when you must be sent
out of the hospital. Where do you wish to go t "
" I'll stay in Nashville," she answered.
" But you can't stay in Nashville. This city is
within the military lines, and no one can come in,
stay here, or go out of this town, without a pass.
You have come into these lines in disguise as a
soldier, but you are now known. So if you will
20 A irOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
not f^o willingly, you will be sent out in charge of
a provost marshal. That is, you will be taken
under arrest by the government officers to Louis-
ville, and left there. Then what will you do }
You are not strong enough to do hard work, and I
doubt if you could get any work there to do."
" I'm awfully sorry I can't go back into the
" You certainly cannot, the case is too well
known ; and recruiting officers have been warned,
and will be on the lookout hereafter. If you will
give your name and place of residence, the govern-
ment will send you home, and the trip will not
cost you anything."
** If I tell you my name, and the place I wish to
go to, will you keep it a secret }
" I will be obliged to tell the officers."
" Will you ask them not to publish it } "
" I certainly will ; and I will never tell it to any
one, except the officers from whom I will get the
order for pass and transportation."
" I will trust you," she said; and she whispered
her name and residence. Two days after that she
was on her way to her home in the Northwest.
I never knew what became of her.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 21
IN December, 1862, General W. T. Sherman
gathered his forces at the landing at Helena,
Ark., and on the 21st of the month the great fleet,
with flags flying, moved down the Mississippi
River. A very strict order had been issued by
him against any citizen or reporter accompanying
the expedition ; and severe penalties were threat-
ened in case the order should be disobeyed.
It was well known that the movement was
against Vicksburg, but the bravest reporter feared
to defy that order.
As some time passed without news of Sher-
man's army, the Blue Wing was sent down with
communications, but she was captured by the
Confederates. The government finally decided
to send down two gunboats and the White Cloud,
a wooden steamer. I at once asked the privilege
of loading the White Cloud with sanitary sup-
plies. Mr. Plattenburg, agent of the Sanitary
Commission, who was also at Helena, had a heavy
lot of supplies.
As I had a pass for myself and all goods, from
22 A WOMAN'S REM/N/SCEXCES
the Secretary of War, I had no trouble in se-
curing a passage on the White Cloud. I do not
recall as to how Mr. Plattenburg secured the
privilege of going with the little expedition ; I
only know that he went, and that the boat was
loaded with our supplies.
Thousands of soldiers were about the landing
when our little fleet moved out with banners
flying. We all knew that untold dangers were
before us. And our heroism created the great-
est enthusiasm. When the WJiitc Cloud moved
out into the channel and turned her prow down
stream, I stepped out "on the guards" to take a
last look at Helena. My appearance was greeted
with such an outburst of applause from the thou-
sands on the wharf that I fled to the cabin, after
waving my handkerchief in acknowledgment of
We were fired into frequently from the banks.
Whenever we reached a point of especial danger
the W J lite Cloud zvas sent eight or ten miles in ad-
vance so as to drazu the eiieniy s fire, and thus un-
cover his batteries ; for it was not likely that if
the gunboats were in sight we would be attacked.
Every moment, night and day, we were in ex-
pectation of shot or shell from some concealed
battery from the shore. But they had been fore-
warned that the gunboats were coming, and so
did not attempt to capture the WJiite Cloud. The
sharp-shooters on the shore fired into us again
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 23
and again. No one was killed ; but sleep and rest
were impossible, and there were many narrow
escapes. We reached Milliken's Bend one morn-
ing about daylight, to find General Sherman's
army quartered there.
There was a great fleet of boats, and the sick
and wounded were on them. A tugboat was
detailed to me ; and I went with my supplies from
boat to boat, distributing such comforts and deli-
cacies as I had, to the men who had been wounded
in the fight near Vicksburg. It was decided by
the medical authorities to send a steamer up the
river with a load of the wounded at once. The
City of MenipJiis, the largest steamer on the Mis-
sissippi River, was selected for this purpose. A
regiment and a battery were removed from the
boat, and she was put in order ; that is, the filth
was shovelled overboard.
I was told by a chaplain at the time that there
were so many of our men dying that the firing
of salutes over their graves was ordered discon-
tinued. The constant noise of 'funerals was de-
moralizing. During the afternoon the boat was
loaded up with the worst patients on the several
boats. They were placed in the berths, and under
the berths, and on the floor, and out upon the
guards. Wherever there was a place where a
fever-stricken, or a torn and broken body could
be laid, it was occupied. About seven hundred
and fifty were put on board.
24 A IVOMAN'S REM/uV/SCKA'CES
The sun was sinkini;- behind the long, low line of
cypress trees, festooned with their trailing mosses,
when our boat turned her prow up the Mississippi
Long rows of men lay on the floor with their
knapsacks for their pillows. Among them was a
Missouri soldier, severely wounded and delirious,
who all the night long called piteously for his
His cry, "O sister!" was so plaintive and
pathetic that I would go to him every little while
'' What do you want ? "
*' I am glad you have come — I want a drink of
When the water was given he would remain
quiet for a little time. The next morning, as soon
as it was light, he was taken to the amputating-
table, and one of his limbs sawed off above the
knee. He sank very low under the operation —
so low that no attempt was made to remove him
from the table. The surgeon in charge said to me,
" Get him to take some food or drink if you can ;
he is sinking very fast." I offered him every
delicacy in my possession, but he turned away in
disgust. There had been some of my supplies
transferred to this boat. While working with the
men on the lower deck, and helping dress their
wounds, I found a barrel of sauer-kraut. I allowed
the attendants to open it ; but afterwards, as I
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 25
came up to the upper cabin, I called the surgeon's
attention to it, so as not to be blamed in the
matter if the results were bad.
It happened that I met him near the amputating-
table. As I passed the patient I turned to give
him a sympathetic look. He beckoned to me, and
I hastened to him. " I want some kraut," he said.
I stepped over to where the surgeon was minis-
tering to a man, and questioned as to whether it
was best to grant his request. '' Give him any-
thing he wants — he can't live anyway," was his
answer. I sent an attendant down to get the
kraut ; and he brought up a big tin cup full, and
placed it on his breast and went his way.
Shortly afterwards, passing that way, I noticed
him, feebly, ravenously trailing the kraut to his
mouth ; and I never saw any one eat as much kraut
as he did in my life. He never stopped till he
emptied the cup. No one attempted to hinder
him, as it was expected he would die soon. From
that hour he began to mend, and by the time we
reached St. Louis his case was considered hopeful.
Months afterwards, as I was passing through
one of the St. Louis hospitals, I heard the tJmd,
thud, of crutches coming after me. I turned to see
who was following me ; and a merry voice greeted
me, *' Here's your sauer-kraut man ! Here's your
sauer-kraut man ! " And there, sure enough, was
my Missouri soldier, able to get around lively on
crutches, and as blithe and merry as though he
26 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
had never felt the keen edge of the surgeon's
The dangers and hardships of that trip can
never be forgotten. There were many touching
incidents. If this little story falls under the eyes
of that Missouri soldier, I would like to hear from
He told me, that day that I last met him, his
story, which was full of the pathos of home love
and tender sacrifices. He was the youngest of
his father's family ; and they did not want to spare
him to the country, though they were loyal to the
Stars and Stripes. But the lawless bands of
marauders, who were significantly called " Bush-
whackers," were prowling over the State of Mis-
souri, and his life was unsafe. He did not
venture to sleep in a house for months before he
left his home, and at last sleeping in the bushes be-
came dangerous. Several times, as he was asleep
out in the undergrowth, he narrowly escaped the
bushwhackers, who were seeking him. I never
saw him again, but hope he got back to his own
During the trip up to Cairo twenty died, one
with lockjaw. It was pitiful to see a great stal-
wart man deprived of the power of speech, starv-
ing to death. Not one particle of food could pass
between his closely-set teeth. His mind was
clear, and daily he wrote out his requests in re-
gard to his friends and other matters.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1J
Never was ocean traveller gladder to see the
headlands of his own native country than were we
to see Cairo. A company of ladies came on board,
fresh nurses and surgeons were obtained, also
comforts for the wounded in the shape of cots,
mattresses, etc. Many of the patients were re-
moved from the overcrowded boat into comfort-
able hospitals at Cairo, thus relieving all parties.
As soon as the boat landed, I went to the house
of a friend ; and as I had not had one hour of
unbroken sleep for about ten days, I redeemed
the time by taking a nap thirty-six hours long.
28 A Jf'O.U.LV'S REMINISCENCES
TWO DREADFUL DAYS ON THE
Tl 1 1^ hospital steamer on which myself and two
other ladies took passage to Pittsburg Land-
ing from Cairo, 111., reaching Savannah, Tenn.,
eight miles below there, about four o'clock a. m.,
April 7. There we heard the news of the terri-
ble battle that had been fought the day before.
Some said : " The Union army is defeated and
driven to the very banks of the river, and are all
likely to be captured to-day." We were soon out
of our berths and on the outlook. The boat, with
a full head of steam, made all possible speed to
reach Pittsburg Landing.
Two gunboats, the Tylci- and the Lexington, lay
out in the stream, sending shot and shell over the
heads of the Union Army into the Confederate
ranks. As the boat steamed up to the Landing,
where already a great fleet of steamers was lying,
the shells went screaming over our heads with
deafening fury. All was in seeming confusion at
the Landing. The roadways, dug out of the steep
bank, were insufficient for such an emergency.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 29
In the hard fight on the day before, a vast amount
of ammunition had been used, and the officers all
well knew that with the dawn of the coming day
the battle would be renewed with desperate fury.
Every teamster was, therefore, doing his utmost
to get ammunition and provisions to the front.
They would bring their mules to the steep, road-
less bank, that stood at an angle of forty-five de-
grees ; and while the driver held the lines with a
strong, steady hand, and set his boot heels so as
to keep a standing position as he ploughed his
way to the bottom, his mules put their little front
feet down, settled themselves on their haunches,
on which the wagon rested, and skeeted to the
bottom with the driver. It was a wild sight.
Each teamster had an assistant who held a torch
made of pine. Hundreds of torches lighted up
the black night. There was a clamor that cannot
be described in the loading up, and a steady
stream of loaded wagons going up the hill by the
As soon as the first rays of the morning light
made objects distinct, the firing began. Both
armies had rested, face to face, on their arms, and
a hasty breakfast had been snatched of what they
could get before daylight, for all well knew that a
bloody day was before them. Each man, as he
lifted his head from the ground where he had pil-
lowed it the night before, wondered if he should
live to see the setting of another sun.
30 A U'OMAX'S KEM/N/SCENCES
Our hospital boat was lying alongside of other
steamers. The rain was falling steadily. We
could hear the heavy guns, the screaming of the
shells, the thunder of the battle going on near
by. As the light increased, we shivered to see
tlie wounded lying on bags of grain and out on
the guards, and the dead, who had been carried
from the boats, lying mangled and bloody along
the shore of the river. At first we could only
cover our faces with our hands in a shiver and
chill of agony, in the attempt to hide the horrid
sights of war from our eyes.
But as we stood there a feeble hand was lifted,
and a feeble voice called out, —
♦' Say, lady ! Can't you bring me a drink of
water .-* "
Immediately a hundred hands were lifted. We
could scarcely see them in the faint light of the
early morning, but we could hear the voices.
" Bring me some water."
" Bring me something to eat."
I called out cheerily, —
** Yes, yes ; luc/l Jiclp you all ivc can!'
It was a great relief to have something to cio.
We went with gladness to our work. I was the
pioneer, and went right onto the boat lying nearest.
The surgeon in charge of our hospital boat
had frone off to the field. There was no one
in authority left on the boat, and we took pos-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 3 1
I had several boxes of canned oysters, and three
or four barrels of crackers, but we soon exhausted
these ; then we began on the beef in the store-
Barrels of soup were made and distributed.
The other two ladies made the soup, and I dis-
tributed it from boat to boat, and from one to
another. Oh, the sights and scenes I witnessed
that day !
As I was carrying a bucket of soup across a
gang-plank, an officer met me. He came bound-
ing forward, with his sword clanging by his side.
"Madam," he said, "what are you doing.?"
I was startled nearly out of my wits, but I
managed to say, —
" I am carrying soup to the wounded."
"Why, you ought not to do that. See here, sol-
dier, I detail you to carry soup for this woman."
The soldier sprang forward and took the bucket
of soup from my hand, and the officer went on.
I never knew who he was. If this falls under his
eyes, I want to thank him for his thoughtfulness.
On and on, all day, I went with my assistant,
while the two lady helpers worked as fast as they
possibly could, to get the food ready.
The distribution of food was very rapid. Men
with broken legs and arms and gashed faces would
hold out their tin cups or canteens to be filled.
The tin cups were easily filled, but the canteens
took longer. When they saw us coming, they
32 A JIV.V.LV'S J^EM/.V/SCENCES
would pound on the floor or on the side of the
boat, calling pitcously, —
" Dojit pass Die by. I am here, lady ; please
give me some soup."
"Please, lady, pour some water on my arm, it is
so dry and hot and the wound hurts so."
Without a moment's relaxation the day passed
in this kind of work.
In the afternoon the gunboats stopped firing,
and the news came that the Confederates were
Oh, how much that meant to us all ; for through
all that morning the boats had tlieir full head of
steam on, so that if the army was driven to the
river, as many as possible could escape by that
Now and then I would help a surgeon who was
dressing some of the worst wounds. My clothing
was wet and muddy to the knees, and covered
with blood, but I did not see it. I had not eaten
a mouthful of food since the night before, but I
did not know it. I was entirely unconscious of
weariness and human needs.
It was about ten o'clock at night when some
one asked, —
'* Did you have supper t " This little question
called me to the consciousness of my condition.
"No," I answered ; "I have not had a mouthful
to eat since yesterday evening."
A surgeon operating near by looked at me ear-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 33
nestly, and then said, with the voice of author-
" Madam, stop work immediately. We will have
you on our hands next."
I was cutting a fragment of a blue blouse away
from the arm of a wounded young soldier. I con-
tinued my work till the bits of the blouse were
gotten out, as far as I could see, then laid on a
'' Oh ! thank you," he said, with grateful tears
in his eyes.
I went back to the cabin of the hospital boat
and had my supper. After changing my clothes
I sat down on a divan, feeling almost too weak
and exhausted to stir. A chaplain came on the
boat, inquiring for me. When he met me he
seized my hand and began to bellow. I have
never heard anything like it. When I saw him,
I knew that he was crazy. The officers of the
boat ran back to see what was the matter, and
somehow the surgeon in charge managed to get
him into a stateroom and lock him in, and place
guards at the door, and the next day he was sent
up with the other patients to St. Louis on that
Early the next morning I was transferred with
the little baggage I had to another boat set aside
for hospital workers. My fine dress, which I had
worn for the first time the day before, was wet
and muddy, and I pitched it into the river.
34 ^ irOALLV'S REMIxXISCENCES
Dr. Grinstcad, now living in Washington City,
was placed in charge of the boat.
The Confederates had retreated toward Corinth,
Miss., but there was still firing in the distance.
Early in the day I went up the steep bank and
out on the battlefield.
The wounded had been gathered up as far as I
could see, but many of the dead were still lying
where they fell.
Not far from the landing there were some tents.
In one of these tents a son of Sam Houston, of
Texas, lay on the ground with others, the gray
and the blue lying together. Young Houston
was severely wounded in the thigh. I talked with
him kindly of his grand, loyal father, and minis-
tered to him as best I could. I saw him many
times afterwards, the last time a prisoner at Camp
Douglass, near Chicago. If this by any possi-
bility passes under his notice, and he has not
forgotten my treatment of him when he was a
wounded prisoner, I will be glad to hear from
him. I went toward a house on the right, but be-
fore I reached it I saw two men coming, carrying
a wounded soldier.
They had made a seat by clasping their hands,
and his arms were thrown about their necks. I
went forward to meet them.
" Oh, set me down by that tree ! I can go no
farther," he cried.
They carried him as tenderly as they could, and
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 35
placed him between the great roots of a very large
tree. His breast was bare, and the blood was
slowly oozing out of a wound in his lungs.
"I am dying," he said, "can't somebody pray.?"
Both men were weeping. If he was not a brother,
he was a friend ; I answered promptly, " I can
pray." I knelt there on the damp ground, and
taking one of his hands in my own, I asked in
simple words the heavenly Father to forgive and
bless. He responded to each petition. I kept
on praying till he said, ''The way is light now,
I do not fear." There was a little gasp, a shiver,
and all was still. As I knelt there I closed his
eyes and said, —
" He is dead."
" Yes," they answered with a sob.
" He is dead, and this is all we can do. We
will report the case, and have the grave marked."
And we turned away and left him there. An
hour afterwards I returned that way. It was a
most impressive sight to see a dead man sitting
there so calmly and peacefully, with eyes closed,
dead and cold. When I passed that way again,
they had taken him away.
The country can never pay those who went out
and heroically defended the flag. Such scenes as
these bring gray hairs before their time to those
who looked on. What must it have been to those
in the midst of the fight t
36 A JrOALLV'S REMINISCENCES
The Drummer Boy of Shiloh and the Boy Hero of Chick-
JOHNNIE CLEM, who lived at Newark, Ohio,
was perhaps the youngest and smallest re^
cruit in the Union Army. The army historian,
Lossing, says that he was probably the youngest
person who ever bore arms in battle.
He was born at Newark, Ohio, Aug. 13, 1S51,
and his full name was John Winton Clem. He
was of German-French descent, and the family
spell the name Klem, and not Clem. His sister
Lizzie, who is now Mrs. Adams, and lives on the
Granville road near Newark, gives the following
statement to a visitor : —
It being Sunday, May 24, 1861, and the rebeh
lion in progress, Johnnie said at dinner table, —
" Father, I'd like mighty well to be a drummer
boy. Can't I go into the Union army 1 "
" Tut ! my boy, what nonsense ! You are not
ten years old," was the father's reply ; and he
thought no more about it. When he disappeared,
he had no thought that he had gone into the scr-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 37
vice. That afternoon Johnnie took charge of his
sister Lizzie, seven years old, and his little brother
Lewis, five years old, and took them to the Sun-
day-school room, and left them there.
As Johnnie did not return, the father and step-
mother were greatly distressed, fearing he had
gone to the canal and gone in for a swim, for he
was an expert swimmer, and had been drowned.
They searched far and near to find him, and had
the water drawn from the head of the canal that
they might find his body, but all in vain. Several
weeks past before they heard from him, and then
they got word through a woman living at Mount
Vernon, who had been a neighbor to them at
Newark, that Johnnie had been there, and that
she had sent him home in care of the conductor.
It seems that Johnnie moved on the sympathies
of the conductor, who took him on to Columbus,
where he joined the Twenty-fourth Ohio Regi-
ment ; but ascertaining that an uncle was in that
regiment, he left it and joined the Twenty-second
He was an expert drummer; and being a bright,
cheerful little fellow, he soon won his way into
the confidence and affection of officers and men.
He was in many battles ; at Shiloh, Perryville,
Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Nash-
ville, and Kenesaw, and in other engagements in
which the Army of the Cumberland took part.
When he entered the army, being too young
38 A U'OMAX'S REMINISCENCES
to be mustered in, he went with the regiment, the
Twenty-second Michigan, as a volunteer, until the
battle of Shiloh.
When he was beating the long roll at the
battle of Shiloh, a piece of shell struck his drum
and sent it flying in fragments. He was after
that called "Johnnie Shiloh."
He was afterwards mustered in, and served also
as a marker, and with his little musket so served
on the battle-field of Chattanooga. At the close
of that bloody day, the brigade in which he was,
being partly surrounded by rebels, was retreating,
when he, being unable to fall back as fast as
the rest of the line, was singled out by a rebel
colonel who rode up to him with the summons,
" Scoundrel, halt ! Surrender, you little
Yankee ! "
Johnnie halted, and brought his gun into posi-
tion as though he was about to surrender, thus
throwing the colonel off his guard. In another
moment the gun was cocked, fired, and the colonel
fell dead from his horse.
His regiment was pursued, and a volley was
fired at that moment, and Johnnie fell as though he
had been killed, and lay there on the field until
it was dark enough for him to slip away unnoticed.
At Chickamauga he was struck with a fragment
of a shell in the hip. He was taken prisoner with
others while detailed to bring up a supply train
from Ikidgeport, Ala.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 39
He fared hard as a prisoner. His sister, Mrs.
Adams, says, " The rebels stripped him of every-
thing — his clothes, his shoes, his little gun — an
ordinary musket, I suppose, cut short — and his
little cap. He said he did not care about any-
thing but his cap ; he did want to save that, and
it hurt him sorely to part with it, for it had three
bullet holes through it." When exchanged he was
given a furlough and sent home for a week. He
was weak and emaciated from starvation, and his
clothes were a bundle of rags. He had been ab-
sent about two years in the army, and was at that
time in his twelfth year.
I did not meet him at Shiloh, but became ac-
quainted with him at Chattanooga, when he was
in the hospital there, and saw him frequently
when he was on General Thomas's staff.
He was a fair and beautiful child then, about
twelve years old, but very small of his age. He
was at that time only about thirty inches high
and weighed about sixty pounds.
At Atlanta, while in the act of delivering a de-
spatch from General Thomas to General Logan, a
ball struck the head of his pony obliquely, killing
him, and wounding his little rider in the right ear.
For his heroic conduct, he was made a sergeant,
and his name placed on the Roll of Honor, and
he was attached to Headquarters of the Army of
Shortly afterwards he received from Nettie M.
40 A JrOMAX'S REMINISCENCES
Chase, the daughter of Chief Justice Chase, a
silver medal inscribed : —
Sergeant Johnnie Clem,
twenty-second michigan volunteer infantry,
FROM N. M. C.
which he worthily wears as a badge of honor on
his left breast with other medals.
When the war was over, General Thomas ad-
vised him to study and make a man of himself.
He studied at West Point, but on account of his
size he could not enter as a cadet. In 1890 he
weighed one hundred and five pounds and was
only five feet high. His wife, Annita, the daugh-
ter of General Wm. H. French, U.S.A., is also
small and delicate, weighing about seventy pounds.
General Grant commissioned him as a lieutenant.
He is now captain of the twenty-fourth U.S. In-
fantry, and is stationed at Columbus, Ohio, and
holds the important office of depot quartermaster
He has one son living, who is very like him,
only he will be larger.
From recent correspondence he seems to be the
same kindly, great-hearted Johnnie as when I first
met him at Chattanooga, Tenn.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 4 1
THERE were many tricks played on the offi-
cers, just for the fun of the thing, during the
war, especially if the troops remained long at any
In one of the many camps of the Union sol-
diers, an odd trick was played off on the surgeon
and chaplain of a regiment noted for its merry-
The troops were camped by a small stream, over
which was a narrow, rickety bridge.
Just across from the camp was a log cabin, in
which lived an old woman alone.
The woman paid no attention to the soldiers,
but went about her daily duties as though uncon-
scious of their presence.
One day some of the boys passed the cabin,
and hurrying over the rickety bridge, came run-
ning into the camp with the message, "The old
woman in the cabin is dying ! " The chaplain and
surgeon were notified.
" Chaplain, hurry over quick ! The old woman
is dying ! "
42 A irOAfAiV'S REMINISCENCES
The chaplain hurried over the rickety bridge as
rapidly as possible ; the surgeon soon followed.
As the chaplain came round to the open door he
saw at a glance that it was a trick, and he passed
on around the house, so as to allow the surgeon to
come on and bear a full share of the joke.
The woman ivas dyeing. She ivas over a kettle
of butteniiit jiiiee dyeing a lot of yarn.
When the two came back over the bridge the
whole camp was in a roar of laughter over the
But what could be done } The men had re-
ported a truth — the woman was dyeing ; so there
was no redress.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 43
GENERAL GRANT'S KINDNESS.
ONE morning during the war, coming down
on the packet boat that plied between
Cairo, 111., and Columbus, Ky., I noticed a wo-
man weeping as though her heart would break.
Her calico dress and coarse blanket shawl beto-
kened abject poverty, and her face was hidden ;
and she sobbed out her anguish in a coarse ban-
Laying my hand gently on her shoulder, I said, —
" My dear woman, what is the matter } "
''It's my boy I'm crying about ; he's awful sick
down in Tennessee, and he has writ for me to
come down an' nus him up, but the men as keeps
the passes at Cairo says I can't go.
" They say there's plenty to take care uv my
boy, and maybe there is ; but I reckon that his
muther what took care uv him when he was a
baby could do it better nor any of them.
" My boy wus a very smart boy. You never
seen a smarter boy nor a better boy than mine
wuz. Well, if they won't let me go down on the
railroad I reckon I can walk. My boy's sick an'
44 ^ JVOMAN'S REMINISCEKCES
I'm bound to go. They tried to skecr me by tell-
in' me the guards would arrest me if I tried to
get through the lines. But I can dodge the
guards, an' creep under the lines. Anyway, I
s'pose them guards ar' human cre'turs, an' if I
tell 'em my boy is a solger, an' awful sick, an'
wants his mother to come down an' nus him,
they'll let me go through."
" Have you his letter with you } "
" Yes, I have."
And out of the depth of a capacious pocket she
drew forth a package, and carefully unrolling it,
she handed me a letter. It was short, but full of
tender pathos. The boy was sick and homesick,
and wanted his mother. Among other things, he
said : —
" You could nus me better than the boys. I
hain't got no apertite and can't eat nothin' ; the
boys hain't much on cookin', but you could cook
something that I could eat, and maybe I'd get
Satisfied that she was a true woman, and not a
spy, I said : —
*' General Grant, the highest officer in the army,
is on this boat. He can give you a pass ; he was
sitting here by this table a few minutes ago ; as
he has left his paper and writing material there,
he will no doubt return in a few minutes. Go
to him and show him your boy's letter, and ask
him for a pass. He will give it to you."
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 45
She was almost dismayed at the thought of
speaking to such a great man. When the Gen-
eral came in and took a seat at the table, I
whispered to her, —
" Now go, — don't be afraid."
The meeting of the two was a picture for an
With sun-bonnet pushed back, and her coarse
shawl drawn closely about her, she timidly ap-
proached him, holding out the letter.
General Grant looked up kindly.
" Are you Gineral Grant } " she questioned.
''Well, my boy's awful sick down in Tennessee,
an' he's writ me this letter to cum an' nus him up ;
but them men at Cairo what gives passes said I
might be a spy, and they wouldn't give me a
" But, Gineral, I hain't no spy ; I'm a good
Union woman as ever lived ; and there's a lady
here as allowed that if I'd ask you maybe you'd
give me a pass."
In the meantime. General Grant had looked
over the letter and scrutinized the woman, and
handing the letter back to her, he said, " Yes, I'll
give you a pass ; what is your name } "
The woman gave her name ; but she was so
delighted that she talked all the while he was
writing the pass : —
" Its awful unhandy for me to leave home now.
46 A IVOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
COS I hain't nobody to take care of nothing. Bill
Spence's wife, she agreed to milk the cow, but I
had a beautiful pig, and I had to turn that out to
root for itself, and I'm awful feared that it will
get lost while I'm gone. But I told Mis' Spence
that I'd ruther risk the pig than to risk my boy,
for he's an awful good boy, Gineral."
"This pass will take you down and bring you
back," said General Grant, handing her the pre-
" How much do you s'pose it'll cost me to go
down ? "
" It will cost you nothing, madam ; the pass
will take you free."
"Don't they charge nuthen on them roads .^ "
"They will not charge you. A mother who has
given her son to the government, the government
can afford to carry free."
Just then I got her attention and beckoned her
"I'm very much obliged to you, Gineral," she
said, and made an old-fashioned courtesy.
Years afterward, while he was an occupant of
the White House, and I w^as there on a friendly
visit, I reminded him of the circumstance, which
he had almost forgotten, and expressed the hope
that the boy had recovered, and that she had
found her pig on her return. He smiled, and
" I always let the mothers pass if their boys
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 4/
were sick, and they seemed to be good loyal
I had noticed that General Grant did not judge
by appearance or dress. Often the lady in her
silks was turned back, while a woman arrayed in
calico would go through the lines.
48 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
ARMY LIFE AT HELENA,
HELENA, Arkansas, was an important military
station in 1S62-63. In December, 1862,
General Sherman, with his great fleet of boats
and an army of twenty or thirty thousand men,
moved from that point down the Mississippi River
upon Vicksburg. There was nothing in the place
of itself that made it a desirable camping-ground
for troops, other than that it was an advance sta-
tion far down into the enemy's country, and com-
manded considerable important territory. The
soldiers called it a " God-forsaken place."
It was named after the daughter of the founder
of the town, Helena; but the soldiers suggested
that the name ought to be spelled with one sylla-
ble and two I's.
Along the river front the land was very low
and subject to overflows, but was protected by a
high embankment, which effectually shut out the
flood tides of the Mississippi River. Just back
of the town was a great green cypress swamp,
that was crossed by a corduroy road — a road
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 49
made of large round logs fastened together at
each end. Back of the swamp rose high bluffs
of yellow clay. They were unsightly and very
precipitous ; in most places perpendicular. Their
uneven sides were seamed and wrinkled by the
floods and storms of ages, and looked like a line
It is easy to imagine the discomfort of such a
camping place. During the winter and spring
the streets of the town were miry and almost
In December, 1862, I reached Helena with a
heavy lot of hospital supplies. I sent a message to
my friend, General Cyrus Bussey, who was Assis-
tant-Secretary of the Interior during President
Harrison's administration, but who was then in
command, requesting an ambulance, that I might
visit the several hospitals. He sent me a note,
saying that it would be impossible to get about in
an ambulance, but that if I wished he would send
me an army wagon. Of course I accepted the
offer. A big wagon, with four good strong mules
attached, was sent me. A camp-chair was put in
for my use ; and Chaplain P. P. Ingalls offered to
accompany me, and took a seat with the driver on
a board which had been placed across the wagon
bed. We started down the principal street of the
town, towards the steamboat landing ; but we had
not gone far till the team began to mire. The
mules made a desperate struggle to get out, and
50 A IVOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
the driver tried to turn them towards the side-
walk ; but the more they struggled the deeper
they sank into the black mire of the street. The
mules were in up to their sides, and the wagon
had sunk down almost to the bed.
Immediately a crowd of soldiers gathered on
the board sidewalk. They had been through
many a miry place, and knew just what to do.
Boards from the near fence and rails were
brought, and soon the space was bridged between
the struggling mules and the board sidewalk.
The mules were soon detached from the wagon,
poles and rails were used to pry them out, and
ropes were put about them, and they were pulled
by main force to the sidewalk.
As the boards on which the men stood sank
down in the mud, other boards were brought and
laid on top of them, and many willing hands made
the work of rescue possible. The last mule to be
rescued was up to his sides in the mire.
It seemed almost impossible to get a rail down
under him, or to get ropes about him, so as to
help him ; but at last, covered with black mud and
almost exhausted, he stood on the board sidewalk.
Chaplain Ingalls and myself were then rescued,
the wagon was abandoned, and a board put up,
*'No Bottom," to warn others.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 5 1
A TERRIBLE STORM AT CHATTA-
How THE Men in the Hospital Tents were saved from
ON the night of Dec. 31, 1863, a fearful
storm swept over the Southern States, ex-
tending from the Mississippi River to the At-
lantic Coast. I was at Chattanooga at the time.
The tempest came down upon us like an Arctic
hurricane. It beat and tore around the cliffs of
Lookout Mountain and down its gorges, levelling
trees, and freezing the life-currents in every un-
protected living thing. Many of the guards on
duty in the army that night froze to death. Gen-
eral Russell A. Alger, who was in front of the
enemy in the Eastern Army that night, tells of
his ride along the picket-line. As the position of
his forces was a dangerous one, he desired to as-
sure himself that the guards were at their posts of
At one point, where the lines of the two armies
came close together, and the danger was especially
great, a trusty soldier had been posted. As Gen-
52 A irOJfJX'S KEM/X/SCENCES
cral Alger approached that i^oint, he was sur-
prised at not being halted, and he felt sure that
the guard was asleep.
"Why do you not challenge me, sir?" he de-
manded. There was no response. Taking the
man by the shoulder. General Alger was shocked
lo find him dead. Standing against a tree, facing
the enemy, that terrible night, with eyes and ears
on the strain, intent on doing his duty well, he
had frozen to death.
At Chattanooga there was great suffering from
scarcity of food, and clothing, and lack of proper
protection. The railroad had been repaired to
Bridgeport only ; and it was necessary to haul all
the supplies of that great army from Bridgeport
to Chattanooga, a distance of twenty-eight miles,
and over a rough, stony mountain road. The
army had marched over this road to Mission
Ridge and Chickamauga, and their shoes had
been cut to pieces on the sharp rocks. Many of
the men were almost barefooted. They were two
hundred and thirty-six miles inland from their
base of supplies. Every bridge had been de-
stroyed, and every foot of the long line of railroad
had to be guarded.
Those of us who ventured to travel over that
dangerous route had to take the chances, both of
obstructions on the track, and volleys of musketry
from ambuscades. When the storm fell upon the
army at Chattanooga the troops lacked both food
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 53
At the foot of Lookout Mountain, there was
a large "field hospital," at which were quartered
the men who were most severely wounded and
sick. The men were sheltered by large tents, and
lay on cots. There were no floors in these tents,
and no arrangements for heating them.
Mrs. Jeremiah Porter of Chicago, a dear little
saint, who is now in heaven, had gone to Chat-
tanooga with me ; and we were together at the
rooms of the Christian Commission when the
storm burst upon the place in its terrible fury.
Amid the raging of the tempest, which made
every timber in the old frame building creak, and
threatened to tear away the roof that covered us,
our first thought was of the men in the field hos-
pital, who were exposed to its fury. Night, as it
v/as, it was decided that we should go to their
relief. While the delegates were getting out the
horses and ambulances, everything that would be
likely to add to the comfort of the patients was
collected from the stores on hand. It was about
daybreak when we started.
The way was lined with dead mules and horses
frozen to death. Half-starved and unsheltered
they could not live in such a storm. The muddy
roads were now frozen. The wind was in our
faces, and the two miles we had to travel seemed
a long journey.
When we reached the hospital our worst fears
were realized. Many of the tents had been
54 A wo MAN'S REMINISCENCES
blown down upon the faces of the helpless men.
Against the fierce northern blasts, which threat-
ened to tear the tents into tatters, the attendants
were striving to right them. But the force was
small compared to the work which needed to be
done. To leeward of the camp, three great log
fires were blazing and crackling furiously.
Mother Bickerdyke, a grand old army nurse,
who did heroic service in the hospitals from the
beginning until the close of the war, was there,
and ofivino^ directions with the clearness and force
of a sea-captain in a storm. Orders were im-
posed on all of us before we were out of the
ambulance. " Come on, Lawrence, with your
men, and help get up these tents. Mrs. Witten-
myer, you and Mrs. Porter get sticks and pry out
rocks, and heat them here in these fires and put
them about the men to keep them from freezing."
We all went to work at once. No one stood
upon the order of his going. With such sticks as
we could pick up it was hard to pry out the rocks,
but we were willing and we succeeded. One
delegate had brought a lot of reading-matter with
him ; and we utilized them as wrappers for the hot
rocks, which we carried in our arms to the cots,
creeping under the flapping canvas when the tents
were down, and putting them around the men the
best we could, and speaking at the time words of
cheer which they so much needed. I thank God
that because of the heroic and timely efforts
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 55
which were made, not one man froze to death in
the tents that day. The great log fires, we
learned later, had been built from a part of a
fort surrendered by the Confederates. Mother
Bickerdyke, not finding suitable wood for fires
which could withstand a tempest, suggested to
the surgeon, that such timbers as they could get
out of the two forts be used for that purpose.
But as the forts were government property, the
surgeon refused to touch them without an order.
Military headquarters were two miles away, and
the tempest was raging. Mother Bickerdyke rose
to the emergency as usual. *' Come on, boys,"
said she ; " we'll soon have the timbers out of the
old fort. What possible use can Uncle Sam put
them to } "
The surgeon warned her that it would be his
duty to report the matter to the proper authori-
ties. '' That's all right, doctor ; but in the mean-
time we'll have the fires going." Of course
nothing was ever done about it. We toiled all
day. As the tents were raised we carried great
pans and kettles full of live coals into the tents,
and emptied them on the ground to temper the
keen air, which seemed to pierce to the marrow.
I had brought up the river, with great difificulty,
a special store of supplies, transporting them in
a small boat, through the special kindness of Gen-
eral John A. Logan, who had detailed the boat
for that purpose. Among the supplies was the
56 A wo MAN'S REMINISCENCES
largest lot of good woollen home-knit socks I had
ever seen together. Many sacks of them had
been pitched into the ambulance that morning;
and as we went through the tents we examined
the feet of the men to see if they were frozen.
We put socks on the feet that were bare, and
kept the hot bowlders moving back and forth to
aid all. Many of the men had on good socks
which had been sent to them by mail ; but the
feet of many were bare. I shall never forget
the stone-bruised feet on which we put warm
woollen socks that day.
At last the work was well-nigh done. The wind
had abated, the tents were up, and our supplies
were nearly all distributed. We had reached the
last tent, and the last two men in the tent. I
turned to the last sack to draw out two pairs of
stockings for the two men before us, but there
was only one pair in the sack. '' O Mrs. Porter,
what shall I do 1 There are two men, and only
one pair of socks ! " I exclaimed in despair.
To my surprise the men began to laugh ; and
one of them said, "There is no great loss without
some small profit, Jim." And they laughed again
heartily. At last one of them explained. " You
see, miss, we've each of us lost a leg, and one
pair will do us both." And this was true; they
had been brought into the tent for the amputa-
tion, and laid side by side. We were both deeply
impressed. I had not counted the feet or the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 57
socks, but He who counts the hairs of our heads
had counted both. Mrs. Porter and I divided the
one pair between us, and each put a sock on the
one foot. Tears of sympathy blinded our eyes as
we remembered that henceforth these two heroes
must walk lame through life.
It was wonderful with what heroism these men
could bear their sufferings and losses. They were
full of hope, and grateful for every little kindness.
They literally overwhelmed me with thanks. But
it was left for an Irishman to express his thanks
for timely help in the most original manner. He
said in the most impassioned tones, his face all
" And sure it's an angel ye are, and may ye be
in heaven three weeks before the devil finds out
58 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
THE WONDERFUL POTATO-PATCH.
IN the spring of 1862 potatoes were very scarce
The women of Muscatine, Iowa, who were earn-
est workers in the Soldiers' Aid Society of that
town, were anxious to secure potatoes to send to
the army. They decided to canvass the town
and the region round about for that purpose.
But the first grocery they entered the proprietor
said, " No, I have no potatoes to spare ; but I have
a field about a mile out of town that you may have
the use of, if you wish to raise potatoes."
The proposition was accepted gladly; and they
at once began to solicit potatoes for planting.
At the appointed day for planting, the loyal
old men who had not gone to the front, and the
women and children, rallied for the work. Wagons
were in readiness to carry out the ploughs, har-
rows, hoes, and potatoes. The men ploughed and
harrowed and furrowed the ground, the women
and children followed, dropping and covering the
potatoes, and the field in due time was planted.
When the time came to cultivate the potatoes,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 59
a "potato picnic" was announced; and when the
day arrived, wagons were in readiness to take all
who were willing to work to the field. A picnic
dinner was served, and althous^h the work was
hard, these hours of toil were enlivened with
laughter and song and wit and wisdom ; and
the weeds were destroyed, and the potatoes cul-
tivated. And so it was each time when the culti-
vation of the field was needed.
Happily the Colorado beetle, known as the
potato bug, had not been heard of as yet.
But there came a time of drought and great
anxiety, for men, and women too, for women
toiled in the fields in those heroic days. They
watched the clouds with sinking hearts, as they
sailed carelessly by, giving never a drop of rain
to revive vegetation and moisten the parched
Every one felt as much interest in the potato-
field the women had planted as though it had
been their own.
There are, perhaps, a score or more of men and
women still living in that loyal town, who will
remember that " Sanitary Potato-Patch ; " and the
remarkable fact, that one day a cloud sailed over
it and drenched the field with rain, scattering
only a few sprinkles over the fields adjoining.
The yield of that potato-field was immense ; and
the entire crop was in time shipped to me at St.
Louis, and distributed in camps and hospitals.
6o A WOMAN'S REMIiYISCENCES
I do not now remember how many bushels they
raised on that patch of ground, but I distinctly
remember that they sent me by one shipment
fifteen hundred bushels of potatoes.
Never were potatoes more needed, or more ac-
ceptable to men suffering from that army scourge,
''scurvy," than were those fifteen hundred bush-
els, distributed to Iowa soldiers and to all in the
general hospitals. To me the supply seemed in-
One of the first stops made by the steamer
sent down with them was at Island No. lo, above
Memphis, Tenn., where one hundred bushels were
put off, with the injunction that they must be
divided equally among the men and officers of
an Iowa regiment stationed there.
There were over one thousand men in all.
On my return trip the steamer stopped again
at Island No. lo. My feet had scarcely touched
the shore till I was surrounded by soldiers, who
reported that the officers had eaten up most of
the potatoes, and that they had been given only
about three messes.
I was indignant, and went directly to the col-
onel's headquarters with the complaint. He was
greatly surprised, and sent for the quartermaster
and other officials, who listened to the complaints
very serenely. When they had heard all I had to
say the quartermaster said, —
" You only gave us one hundred bushels of
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 6 1
potatoes ; how long did you think they would
*' About a month I thought."
** We have ten companies of one hundred men
each. Every company got ten bushels. That di-
vided among one hundred men would only give
them about two messes apiece."
"That is so," I confessed with some confusion.
'^ I see," he continued, " that you are not accus-
tomed to feeding armies."
'' If that is the way they eat, I don't want the
task of feeding them. I accept your explanation,
and beg you to excuse my ignorance in these
And so we parted. I had a few minutes later,
as the boys gathered about me at the landing, the
privilege of explaining why they did not get more
than tw^o or three messes of potatoes, — that there
were too many of them. That if there had been
ten men and one hundred bushels of potatoes,
instead of one thousand men and one hundred
bushels of potatoes, they would have fared better.
62 A IVOiMAN'S REMINISCENCES
SAVED BY LEMONADE.
THE many-colored signal lights of the fleet of
steamers at Milliken's Bend, and the bright
camp-fires on the land, that glowed with such un-
wonted splendor in the gloaming, soon all faded
out of sight as our boat steamed away toward St.
Louis ; and soon the black curtain of night shut
us in with its thick heavy folds like a funeral pall,
and our fight with disease and death began in
Never before in the history of wars, so full of
untold agonies, did the timbers of a steamer bear
up such a burden of pain, despair, and death, as
did the City of Me^npJiis as she steamed away
from Sherman's army. Wherever there was room
for a sick or wounded soldier, on the cabin floor
without mattress or pillow, in the staterooms,
under the stateroom berths, out on the guards, on
the top, or hurricane deck, on the lower deck,
every space was filled with sore, weary, aching
human bodies, mangled or fever-smitten. Of the
seven hundred and fifty sick and wounded on
board, about twenty-five were delirious ; and their
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 63
pitiful cries mingled with the whirr of the wheels,
and the splash of the waters, as the monster boat,
with its heart of fire and its breath of steam,
pulled heavily against the mighty tides of the
Mississippi River, were heart-breaking. No one
who was on that boat can ever forget that first
night out. Nor can I be charged with over-draw-
ing the picture. No pencil can paint it black
Nothing has ever haunted my waking and
sleeping dreams, not even the ghastly scenes of
the battle-field, as the memory of the concen-
trated horrors of that journey. The groans and
cries of the wounded and dying still ring through
my soul ; and from feelings of compassion I draw
the curtain over the darkest scenes, that even at
this distance make me shudder, and give to my
readers only the more pleasant incidents of the
journey, which was in truth a funeral march.
One man lying on the floor of the ladies' cabin
on his blanket, with his fever-racked head on his
knapsack, gave me such an appealing look that I
went to him.
"What can I do for you } " I inquired.
" You can write to my wife if you get through
alive, and tell her I died on the City of Mern-
" While there is life there is hope. You are
not dead yet, and may not die."
'* Oh, yes, I will ! there is no chance for me.
64 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
Now take down her name," and he gave me the
name and address of his wife.
" Now I must do something to help you," I
said. ** Could you drink a cup of tea } "
'' No, nothing — it's too late."
** Could you drink a glass of lemonade .? "
How his face brightened ! ** Where could you
get it "^ " he asked eagerly.
" Make it. I have lemons and sugar, and there
is a whole river full of water at hand."
The poor man cried with joy ; and others wept,
too, as they drank the refreshing beverage, for,
providentially, I had a heavy lot of lemons with
The patient began to mend at once, and by the
time we reached Cairo was able to sit up.
Years afterwards I was on a Mississippi River
steamer bound for St. Louis, when I noticed a
lady and gentleman regarding me with some in-
terest, and heard the gentleman say, —
" I am sure it is she."
The lady came directly to me, with the ques-
'' Did you come up the Mississippi River on the
City of Memphis with the wounded after Sher-
man's defeat .? "
"Yes, I did."
*' It's she ! It's she ! " the lady exclaimed joy-
fully, much to the amusement of some of the pas-
sengers who had not heard the question.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 65
The gentleman joined us, and made himself
known as the man who started the lemonade treat
on that doleful night. " That saved my life," he
'' I want you to know," said his wife, with tears
on her face, " that we have never for a day for-
gotten you, though we did not know your name.
We prayed for you as the unknown lady ; and the
children were taught to end their evening prayer-
with, " and God bless the unknown lady that
saved papa's life."
It was a very happy and pleasant meeting,
although purely accidental.
^ A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
NOT TIME TO SEND FOR THE
CLINTON B. FISK was chosen colonel of a
regiment made up largely of ministers and
religious men. The morality of the regiment was
a matter of favorable comment, not only in the
camp where they were drilled before leaving the
State, but also as they advanced down the Missis-
sippi River. Some one suggested that Colonel
Fisk should do the swearing of the regiment, as
he was " as religious as a preacher."
The colonel, who was not to be nonplussed by
such a proposition, readily accepted the duty, the
men all assenting.
*' Soldiers," he said, with great gravity, '' if
there is any necessary swearing to be done in this
regiment, call on your colonel."
Weeks passed, during which not an oath was
heard in camp. The first hard camping-place
was at Helena, Ark. The regiment pitched their
tents on the bluff back of the town, on yellow
clay, which after a rain became like putty. It
was more than a mile to the steamboat-landing ;
and all the supplies had to be hauled through the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 6/
miry streets of the town and over the corduroy
road, — a road made of logs firmly fastened to-
gether, — and then up a long, steep hill, where the
mud-like yellow putty gathered upon the wheels
and upon the feet of men and beasts.
Colonel Fisk sat in his tent one day attending
to official business, when he heard one of his men,
a teamster, swearing like a Hessian. He recog-
nized his voice, and determined to reprove the
man at the first opportunity. He had not long to
wait. "John," he called, "come here." John
responded with a military salute, and stood before
his colonel unflinchingly.
" John, did I not hear some one swearing dread-
fully down the hill a little while ago 1 "
" Yes, Colonel, that was me."
" You, John } I am surprised. Don't you
remember that I was to do the swearing for this
regiment } "
" Yes, Colonel, I know ; but, you see, I was
coming up the hill with a big load, and the breech-
ing broke. The swearing had to be done right
away, and you weren't there to do it." And the
teamster made the military salute and retired.
Many of the other privates were so full of wit
that it was almost impossible for the officers to
reprove them. General Fisk, years afterward,
used to say laughingly, that it was little worth
while to try to argue a question with John, his
teamster, as he always got the best of the argu-
68 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A VISIT TO PARSON BROWNLOW.
THE Confederates had been driven back from
Chattanooga and Knoxville, and the lines of
railroad travel had been re-established. I had oc-
casion at that time to go to Knoxville. The jour-
ney was a dangerous one ; but the mission was
important, and I took the chances. I was de-
lighted to learn, after reaching Knoxville, that
Parson Brownlow, the hero of East Tennessee,
was at home. It was afterward arranged that I
should meet him at his own house.
He dwelt in an unpretentious, two-story frame
structure, having a little portico in front. Firmly
attached to the little portico was a tall flagstaff,
from which floated a large Union flag. This flag
had been put up at the beginning of the war, and
had never been hauled down. Parson Brownlow
was tall, lithe, and sinewy in form. His hair was
black and abundant. He was a quiet talker while
conversing on ordinary subjects ; but when the
war, the causes which led to it, the plotting and
scheming by which the loyal sentiment of East
Tennessee was silenced, was the theme, his eyes
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 69
flashed fire, his wit, sarcasm, and denunciation
flowed in electric currents. His sentences were
short, terse, and emphatic. One could better un-
derstand, looking into his face when he straight-
ened himself up to his full height and poured out
his torrent of accusations, why men whom he
charged with treason and falsehood, and arraigned
before God and men, should fall back in fear and
He pointed out to me the little prison, with its
iron-barred windows, in which he was for a time
confined as a prisoner. The jail stood on the
bank of the River Holstein, and he was put into a
cell which overlooked the river and forest beyond.
For a time his enemies had possession of the
town, and he was placed where he could see noth-
ing that was going on, and it was well. Many
of his neighbors who had assumed to be loyal
brought out Confederate flags, which they had
kept concealed in flour-barrels, and flung them to
the breeze. But there was one Union flag which
did not come down, and that was the broad stand-
ard which floated over the little portico of Parson
Mrs. Brownlow, a quiet, lovely little woman,
added a word in explanation now and then ; but
when her boys were spoken of, she sighed heavily
as though her heartstrings would snap asunder.
And yet she had, in defence of the flag, shown
uncommon courage. There were only two chil-
70 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
dren at home ; one a young lady, the other a girl
of about ten or twelve years. We all stood out
on the little portico, and Miss Brownlow described
to me her heroic defence of the flag which was
waving above us. She was a beautiful and stately
woman ; and as she stood there that day describ-
ing the scene, when with drawn pistol she chal-
lenged the men sent to take down that flag, she
was the most perfect personification of the God-
dess of Liberty I ever saw. As her eyes flashed
fire, and her words rang out clear, full, and em-
phatic, we could well understand why the men
The flag was watched and defended until a
Union force came to their relief. The little force
advanced carefully, until the head of the column
reached the crest of the hill which environs the
place. Looking out over the town, which was
quietly sleeping in the gray of the morning, they
saw among the Confederate flags the Stars and
and Stripes waving from one pole. It was like an
inspiration. They made an impetuous charge, and
captured the town. The flag over Parson Brown-
low's house never came down.
The influence of Parson Brownlow on Tennes-
see, and especially East Tennessee, still lives, and
will live for ages. He was a man of great soul,
of intense convictions, and of courage equal to his
convictions. If he had been a coward, his blood
would have watered the soil of Tennessee. But
OF THE CIVIL WAR. yi
his courage, his wonderful mastery of the English
language, and the fearful majesty of his presence,
cowed his enemies ; and those who had planned to
take his life were glad to send him away out of
My visit to Parson Brownlow, his burning words,
and the story of the flag, can never be forgotten.
He was by far the ablest man Tennessee has ever
72 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A RICH REWARD FOR SERVICES.
Saving the Life of a Brother.
I WENT out to Sedalia, which was in the heart
of the State of Missouri, with supplies.
It was a crisp winter morning in January when
the train reached the place. I went directly to a
large hospital near the railroad station. Visitors
were not received at that hour ; but a pass from
Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, unbarred the door
which opened from the vestibule into a large, long
room filled with cots. On each cot lay a sick or
Breakfast was being served by the attendants.
Glancing down the room, I saw one of my own
brothers, a lad of sixteen, who, fired with the
war spirit, had gained consent to go. I had
thought that he was a hundred miles or more
away. There was a look of utter disgust on his
face as he rejected the breakfast and waved the
"If you can't eat this you'll have to do with-
out ; there is nothing else," was the attend-
ant's discouraging response. On a dingy-looking
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 73
wooden tray was a tin cup full of black, strong
coffee ; beside it was a leaden-looking tin platter,
on wh'ich was a piece of fried fat bacon, swim-
ming in its own grease, and a slice of bread.
Could anything be more disgusting and injuri-
ous to fever-stricken and wounded patients ?
And nearly every soldier in that hospital was
prostrated by fever or severe wounds ; yet this
was the daily diet, with little variation. Typhoid
fever and acute dysentery was the verdict of a
conference of physicians that consulted in regard
to my brother.
There was little hope of his recovery. An old,
experienced physician said, "■ If he can have good
care and nursing his recovery is possible, but not
probable." And the sad news was telegraphed to
the dear old home. The surgeon removed him
into a little inner room, and my fight with death
began in earnest.
Oh ! those dreadful days and nights of watch-
ing ; no joys of earth can ever obliterate their
The restless tossing of the fever-stricken ones
in the adjoining room, the groans of the wounded,
the drip, drip, drip, of the leaking vessels hung
above the worst wounded ones to drop water on
the bandages and keep them cool and moist, put
every nerve on the rack, and pulsated through
heart and brain till it seemed as though I should
go wild. It was an inside view of the hospitals
74 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
that made me hate war as I had never known how
to hate it before.
The pitiful cry of helpless ones calling, ***Niirse,
nurse ! water, water ! " and the weary, sleepy nurses
making no response — sitting, perhaps, fast asleep,
yet willing to do their duty when I aroused them,
still rings in my ears.
The surgeon in charge and all the attendants
were kind and respectful, coming into our room
on tiptoe lest their rude steps and ways might
jostle a soul, hanging by a thread, out of life.
Each day a telegram was sent to those who
watched and prayed far away: "No better —
But a new anxiety disturbed me. The acting
medical director, who visited the hospital each
day, coming in reeling drunk on the second day,
ordered that I should only be admitted for an
hour each day, in the afternoon.
No one in the hospital was ready to enforce
such a brutal order.
Immediately the chief ofificers at Sedalia and
St. Louis were advised of the state of affairs.
The next day, when the acting medical di-
rector came into the hospital, he was too drunk
to talk plainly, or to walk without staggering, and
yet his word was law. He was not too drunk
to notice my presence when he staggered into
that little room, however. He said, —
" Madam, it's against my rules to have any
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 75
ladies in my hospitals, and you must leave
"The devotion of a sister is stronger than all
hospital rules," I answered calmly.
'* You can't stay in this hospital. I'm boss
here." I made no answer. One or the other
of us must certainly leave that hospital. Letters
and telegrams poured in upon the chief officers
at St. Louis, from all the leading officers and
surgeons in the army at Sedalia, and he was re-
lieved from duty before the rising of another
sun. And as he was only acting medical direc-
tor, not yet having been mustered in, he was dis-
missed from the service, and I never saw his face
There was general rejoicing throughout the
hospital, the camp, and the town, for the man
had been a disgrace to the army. After this,
there were only disease and death to fight. The
powers of human endurance are wonderful. For
seven days and nights I never closed my eyes
to sleep, only as I leaned my head down on the
side of the cot on which the one lay who was
hovering between life and death.
My eldest brother, Dr. William H. Turner, who
was a surgeon in the Union army, came up on a
leave ; but as the forces were ordered on the ex-
pedition against Fort Henry and Fort Donelson,
he received a telegram to join his command the
very next day. He had little hope of ever seeing
^6 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
his brother's face again ; but good nursing brought
him, and many others in that hospital, through to
health again. He not only recovered, but he re-
turned to the army ; and when his term for three
years had expired, he re-enlisted and served till
the close of the war.
He is still living. He has a ranch and a placer
gold mine, with first water rights, near Helena,
Mon., where he lives with his family. .
In the corner near our little room lay a fair-
faced boy of sixteen. The surgeons had given
him up to die. When we looked into each other's
faces I asked the question, " Can I do anything
for you 1 " The tears came welling up into his
great brown eyes ; and after a moment's struggle,
he burst into tears, sobbing like a child. I laid
my face down on the pillow and cried too. No
one laughed and called him babyish. Poor boy !
sick and homesick, and needing so. much care and
love, and yet getting so little ; lingering on the
borderland, with no hand to help, and no voice to
cheer him. No wonder he cried aloud ; great
stalwart men, stricken down in the midst of the
fight, wounded, sick, and sore, understood it ; and
tears were on many a bronzed face as, taking his
thin hands in my own, I cried with him.
As soon as he could command himself he said,
"If only I could go home, mother could nurse me
up in a little while."
"You shall go home. I'll get you a furlough
OF THE CIVIL WAR. JJ
as soon as you get well enough," I answered
From that hour there was a marked improve-
ment in that patient's symptoms, and many other
overcharged hearts were relieved by this outburst
of feeling. In less than two weeks this boy,
closely wrapped in blankets, was helped to the
train, for he was going home on a furlough.
Friends were to meet him at St. Louis, and ac-
company him to his home and his mother in Den-
And she did nurse him up ; and he returned
well and strong, to beat the drum for the rallying
of the serried ranks of men, who, with set faces
and glittering steel, marched to battle.
Never was a mother more grateful than that
Iowa mother was for the little kindnesses shown
to her suffering boy. I afterwards met him in the
ranks; for he came down to the Sanitary boat
to meet me. He was well and strong, and very
grateful for the little help I had rendered him.
yS A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
SAVED BY A BIRD.
THE surgeon in one of the Nashville hospitals
said, pointing to one of his patients, "There
is a young man slowly starving to death. His
fever is broken, and he might get well, but we
cannot get him to eat anything. If you can tempt
him to eat he may recover."
I went over and stood beside his cot. " I am
glad to see you looking so much better," I said
enthusiastically. He shook his head. " Oh, yes
you are ; and now what can I bring you to eat ?
I'll bring you something real nice; what shall it
be -> "
''Nothing." And he turned his face away in
" I'll tell you what you can eat ;" for I suddenly
remembered that I had seen a lot of birds hanging
in a meat-shop as I came down to that hospital ;
"you can eat a nice broiled bird."
He looked up in surprise with a ghost of a smile
on his face. "Maybe I could."
" Why, of course you could ; and I will go right
away and get one for you."
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 79
*' It will be too much trouble."
" No, it will not be a bit of trouble. You lie
still and think what good eating a bird is till it
I hurried away lest he should change his mind,
bought some birds, and took them to the Christian
Commission Home, where there was an excellent
'' Aunt Debby," I said, as I marched into the
kitchen with the birds, " I want you to broil two
of these birds the very best you can. A soldier's
life depends upon them."
'' Laws, missus ! You 'most scare me to death
talking dat way. I'ze weak as a rag, and ken do
" But you'll do it right, and then the soldier will
get well. I'll help you."
In a very short time two birds nicely broiled,
and dressed with a little fresh butter and a pinch
of salt and pepper, lay in the bottom of a hot cov-
ered dish. A card with the name of the hospital,
the name of the soldier, and the number of his
cot, was attached to the basket ; and a half-grown
colored boy in service at the house was intrusted
with it, and bore it away in haste.
''Take notice, Ben, what he does and says, so
you can tell us when you come back," was my last
In due time Ben came back, laughing. '' Did
he eat them } " I questioned eagerly.
8o A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
" O missus, you o'ter 'a' seen 'im. I sot don
the basket and tooked off de cover and held the
birds up close tu 'im ; an' my, but it did smell
good! He jus' gim it one look, den he grab one
an' begun to eat. But I wus a-holden de dish dar,
an' he seed t'other bird, and he grabbed dat, an' he
dove his han' dow under 'is piller an' brung out an
ole newspaper, and he wrapped up t'other bird and
chucked it down under his piller, and den he went
on eaten as fast as he could. Oh, golly, but wus-
ent he hungry ! " And Ben doubled himself up and
laughed as only a colored boy can laugh.
The next day I was called away to Chattanooga,
and so I left all my work in other hands. While
in Chattanooga, General Hood marched northward
and broke the lines of communication between
Nashville and Chattanooga, and I was detained
there several weeks. The very day after my re-
turn I was on the streets of Nashville, and a sol-
dier met me with great cordiality.
" I don't believe you know me," he said.
*' No, I don't remember to have ever met you
before," I replied.
'' I'm the man you sent the birds to."
" I am glad to see you. How is it that you are
up and out so soon } "
" Well, you see, there wasn't anything the matter
with me, but I did not know it. I thought I was
going to die, but the birds did the business. I
never did taste anything quite so nice as they
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 8 1
were, and I have been eating ever since, anything
I could lay my hands on. And now I am well, and
am going to join my regiment."
After a few cordial thanks and good wishes we
separated, and I have never seen him since. If
these lines fall under his notice, I would like to
hear from him.
82 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
HOW MOTHER BICKERDYKE CUT
THE battle of Corinth had raged from early
morning till late in the afternoon, and then
General Price was checked and forced to retreat.
The struggle had been a bloody one, and the
o:round was covered with the wounded and the
The Confederates made a desperate struggle to
capture Fort Robbinette. General Rogers, or
"Texas Rogers" as he was usually called, led
the charge against the fort. Splendidly mounted,
with a flag in one hand and a pistol in the other,
he rode up to the very mouth of the cannon, all
the while beckoning his men onward. Reaching
the ramparts, he planted the Confederate flag
there, and the next moment fell dead. But his
troops surged up after him, although the cannon
of the fort mowed down great swaths of march-
ing men, as with set faces and bowed heads they
followed their leader.
The scenes that followed were indescribable.
The human avalanche surged up into the fort,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 83
and men, hand to hand, contended for the
The Confederate flag waved only for a moment.
Then it was torn away, and tlie men who had
climbed up over the ramparts were hurled back.
But still fresh relays came on. When there was
not time to reload their guns, the invaders used
them as clubs, and the fragments of many a shat-
tered musket were left upon the field. Texas
Rogers's horse, which had gone back riderless,
came dashing up again when the next charge was
made, as though guided by human hands, and
once more turned and went back. After the
bloody conflict ended, it was found that forty-two
men lay dead in a heap where '' Texas Rogers "
planted his flag and died.
Hungry and utterly exhausted as were the men,
who, without food or rest, had fought all day,
their first duty was to their wounded comrades.
Every available building, and every church but
one, was taken for hospital purposes ; and long
rows of tents were put up on the grounds of the
Ladies' College. But there was a lack of sup-
plies. There were no cots or pillows — only the
Among the heroic workers there, was Mother
Bickerdyke, who could always find supplies if they
were within reach. She took some wagons and a
squad of men, and went down to the quartermas-
ter's storehouse. " Come on, boys," she said ;
84 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
*' we will see if we can find anything to make
the wounded comfortable."
The quartermaster was there to receive her, and
to say, "We have no hospital supplies; they are
all given out."
''Then, I'll have to take what I can get. Boys,
roll out some of those bales of hay and cotton !
They will make better beds than the ground."
"You must bring me an order, madam."
" I have no time to hunt up officers to get
" But I am responsible for these supplies, and
cannot let them go without proper orders."
The wagons were soon loaded up, and the bales
of hay and cotton were soon at the hospital tents.
An axe cut the hoops, and the hay went flying
into the tents in long even rows with the help of
ready hands. An armful of cotton made a good
pillow. All night long the work went on. Some
with lanterns were searching among the dead for
the wounded and bringing them in ; others dress-
ins: the wounds. No one was idle. The utmost
of strength and energy must be put forth at such
But the quartermaster must make his accounts
all right, and of course had to enter complaint
against Mother Bickerdyke. She was summoned
to meet the charge, which she did when she found
time to go.
" Mrs. Bickerdyke, you are charged with taking
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 85
quartermaster's stores without proper orders and
over his protest."
'' Who ordered the tents put up on the college
grounds ? "
'' I did."
'* What were they put up for.?"
'* To shelter the wounded men, of course."
" Did you expect these wounded men to lie on
the ground t "
'' You should have obtained orders."
*' I had no time to go for orders. Why didn't
you order in the hay and the cotton t "
'' I did not think of it."
" Well, I did, and used all I needed ; and now all
you have to do is to draw an order for them and
give it to the quartermaster."
She bade the officers good-day and returned to
her work, and no one thought of arresting her.
Indeed, she had the best of the argument.
Mrs. Mary A. Bickerdyke, or *' Mother Bicker-
dyke " as the boys used to call her, was one of the
most energetic and faithful workers of the war.
Her fidelity to duty, and her untiring efforts for
the comfort of the sick and wounded, have en-
deared her to her co-laborers and to the old
soldiers whom she blessed. She now, 1894, lives
in quiet and comfort with her son, Professor Bick-
erdyke, Russell, Kan.
86 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A FIGHTING EDITOR.
IN the spring of 1861, Dr. Charles Elliott edited
TJie Central CJiristimi Advocate, in the third
story of a business block in St. Louis, Mo.
The SoiitJieiii CJiristian Advocate, which rep-
resented the views of the South, was at the
time published in the second story of the same
The two editors, who had always been per-
sonally friendly to each other, were wide apart
on the great question of disunion, which was
stirring the hearts of the people.
Dr. Elliott was a genial Irishman of great
ability and courage. He was one of the most
learned men in the country. It is a remarkable
fact that he had never been in a college until
he was chosen president of one of the finest
Western institutions of learning, yet he was mas-
ter of all the highest university studies taught.
Sanscrit, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German,
Spanish, and many other languages, were as famil-
iar to him as the English, and he was profoundly
versed in the natural sciences and mathematics.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 87
He was a thorough scholar, and made a good
college president. But the church needed a
strong, loyal man, with the courage to stand for
the truth, at this outpost ; and Dr. Elliott was
Both editors were able and fearless men, and
they fought many a hard battle with their pens
before the bombardment of Fort Sumter. After
the fall of Sumter, the excitement in St. Louis
ran high. The city was about evenly divided in
sentiment, and no one dared to predict what a
day or an hour would bring forth. The Stars
and Stripes, symbolizing the Union cause, and
the State flag, representing the disunion cause,
floated here and there side by side on adjoining
buildings. The two editors grew more intense
in feeling as the conflict deepened. Dr. Elliott's
strong, masterly arraignment of the South for
the crime of slavery, and his cutting sarcasm
over secession, were almost unbearable to the
managers of the other paper, and the latter tried
to pay him back with interest; but at first neither
one actually unfurled on the building the banner
which represented his principles.
One day news reached St. Louis that General
Price had won a victory, and the editor of The
SontJieni CJiristiaii Advocate threw out the State
flag. A few moments afterward a friend came
rushing into Dr. Elliott's sanctum : '* Doctor,
they have thrown out the rebel flag down-stairs."
88 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
Dr. Elliott sprang from his editorial chair, and
rushed to the front window. There, sure enough,
was the flag of disunion, waving in the breeze.
Dr. Elliott had prepared for just such an emer-
gency. All the ropes and guys were ready. He
ran to a closet, brought forth an immense Union
flag, and threw it out. The next moment it was
in its place, and was waving back and forth be-
fore the windows of the office below, and slap-
ping the other flag furiously. Dr. Elliott laid
out a brace of pistols on his editorial table, and
took his seat to await developments. He did not
have long to wait. The tramp of feet was heard
on the stairs, and the editor of The Southern
Christian Advocate rushed in with some of his
" Take down that flag ! " he thundered.
'* I shall not take down that flag ; and if any
man touches it I will shoot him on the spot as
an enemy of my country," was Dr. Elliott's
prompt reply, as he stood, pistol in hand, ready
to execute his threat.
After some parley the invading force retired.
Shortly afterward a large Union force was
thrown into St. Louis, martial law was declared,
and all the rebel flags were hauled down. The
beautiful flag which Dr. Elliott had displayed in
front of his office continued to wave in triumph
until the war was over.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 89
THE FIRST SOLDIERS WOUNDED
IN THE CIVIL WAR.
A Colored Man the First to Fall.
FORT SUMTER was fired on April 12, 1861.
The next day the Pottsville Light Infantry,
of Pottsville, Pa., tendered their services by tele-
gram for the defence of the government.
Their services were accepted by Simon Cam-
eron by telegraph ; and they, with recruits gath-
ered on the journey, were the first troops to reach
the capital. There being some question as to the
date of their reaching Washington, Simon Cam-
eron, Secretary of War, being appealed to, pub-
lished the following letter : —
Philadelphia, July 4, 1866.
I hereby certify that the Pottsville Light Infantry was the
first company of volunteers whose services were oifered for
the defence of the capital at the beginning of the War of the
Rebellion. A telegram reached the War Department on
April 13, 1861, making the tender. It was immediately ac-
cepted; and the company reached Washington on the 18th,
with four additional companies from Pennsylvania, and these
were the first troops to reach the seat of government.
(Signed) Simon Cameron.
90 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
On July 22, 1861, the United States Congress
passed the following resolution : —
Resolved, That the thanks of the House are due and are
hereby tendered to the five hundred and thirty soldiers from
Pennsylvania who passed through the mob at Baltimore, and
reached Washington on the i8th day of April last, for the
defence of the national capital.
Although the day was cold and raw, the people
of the loyal town of Pottsville gathered on the
streets and cheered them on their way ; and all
along the line till they reached Baltimore, they
were hailed with loyal enthusiasm.
They reached Baltimore April 18; and while
passing through that city a furious mob assailed
them, and they fought their way through.
Nicholas Biddle, the only colored man in the
company, an old man sixty years old, was the first
Union volunteer to shed his blood for the life of
the nation in our recent Civil War.
It is a significant fact that the first man killed
in the Revolutionary War was a colored man, —
Nicholas Biddle was not killed, but was struck
on the head w4th a stone dropped from a building,
and fell senseless and covered with blood. His
comrades, although fighting a furious mob, did not
desert him, but gathered him up and put him on
Weary and wounded and bruised and battered
by the mob at Baltimore, they got through alive,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. Qf
and were on the i8th of April quartered in the
rotunda of the Capitol.
Nicholas Biddle, although sixty years old, en-
listed and served throughout the war, and re-
turned to Pottsville with those who survived the
He lived till he was eighty years old ; and his
friends at Pottsville have erected a monument
in his honor, which bears the following inscrip-
"IN MEMORY OF
Died 2d Aug, ^ ^^7^^ aged 80 years.
His was the proud distinction of shedding the First Blood in
The Late War for The Union. Being wounded while
marching through Baltimore with the First
Volunteers from Schuylkill County,
1 8th April, 1861.
ERECTED BY HIS FRIENDS OF POTTSVILLE."
The very next day, April 19, the Sixth Massa-
chusetts Regiment fought its way through the
same cruel, howling mob.
92 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
RUNNING THE BLOCKADE AT
THE ship canal, and all other plans for getting
below Vicksburg with enough boats to trans-
port his troops across the Mississippi River, hav-
ing failed. General Grant determined to run the
blockade. Seven gunboats and three wooden
steamers were put in condition to make the peril-
The iron sides of the gunboats were drenched
with coal oil, and the floors were whitewashed,
that the gunners might load their guns by the
light of the whitewash.
The important working machinery of the wooden
steamers was protected by bales of cotton and
bales of hay. The smoke-stacks and pilot-houses
were taken down; and the pilots must needs stand
at their wheels, and the captains on the upper
decks, with nothing to shield them from the
sharpshooters on the wharves of Vicksburg.
All this preparation was done as secretly as
But the service was a dangerous one, and no
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 93
one was to be ordered into such unusual and
dangerous service. A call was made along the
line on dress parade for volunteers. Two thou-
sand brave men stepped to the front, anxious for
the perilous service. As only a few were needed,
lots had to be drawn to obtain the few from the
two thousand ; and one young man, who was
chosen by lot, was offered one hundred dollars
for his place, but he refused it. I am glad to
record that he got through safely.
About nine o'clock on the night of April 16,
1863, a dark night, I received a note from Mrs.
General Grant, who was with her husband at
Milliken's Bend, informing me that the boats
would run the blockade that night, and asking me
to come over and go with them to witness it. I
accepted the invitation, and accompanied the
orderly who had brought the note. It was dark
and raining ; but very soon we were, in company
with General Grant, on our way to the steamer
that was to bear us to the point chosen by our
fearless leader to witness the running of the
When we reached the steamer, we found all the
leading generals there except General Sherman,
who had gone below to receive the fleet. McPher-
son, Logan, Belknap, Rawlins, Dodge, and all the
others whose names have been made immortal in
connection with the siege of Vicksburg, were
there. The boat at once steamed down to
94 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
Young's Point, from Milliken's Bend ; and about
midnight all the lights were extinguished, the
fires screened, and the boat dropped down with-
out the splash of a wheel, near the first batteries
of Vicksburg. With what intense interest we
watched for the coming of the fleet, peering out
into the darkness of that black night. At last we
saw a gunboat, blacker than that starless night,
creeping past us like some great monster of the
deep. Then another and another, right down
under the guns. They passed the first batteries
without being noticed ; then the storm broke
upon them in all its fury.
Admiral Porter on his flag-ship, the Benton,
lead the way. The Carondclct, commanded by
Captain Walke, and the Tnsciinibia, followed.
The three wooden steamers were the Forest
Queen, the Henry Clay, and the Silver Wave.
The first shot near us seemed to tear the sky
to pieces above our heads. There was a flash of
light all along the water-line of Vicksburg ; great
bonfires lighted up the river.
The captain of our boat in his excitement put
on steam and started up the river. General Grant,
who was with us on the guards, rushed to the
hurricane deck, and compelled the captain to drop
back to the old position.
Our long line of gunboats were now giving
broadside after broadside, keeping well to the
Vicksburg side, while the wooden steamers, with
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 95
their heavily ladened scows or barges, ran through
as rapidly as possible, keeping well to the Loui-
The great artillery duel was now on, every gun
on both sides of the line was belching forth shot
Our boat swayed with the concussion of sound.
It was as though a thousand electric storms had
burst upon us in all their fury. And yet each
shot and shell had a voice of its own, and could be
heard in thunder tones with awful distinctness.
And running through the bass and treble of solid
shot and screaming shells, the click of the mus-
ketry of the sharpshooters on the wharfs of Vicks-
burg could be heard, as, by the light of the bonfires
blazing high, they aimed the deadly bullets at the
captains and pilots who stood up unarmed in full
view. My friend. Captain McMillen of Pittsburg,
Pa., who owned the Silver Wave, and who com-
manded her on that expedition, stood on her deck
in full view, amid the terrible rain of fire and lead.^
There were, history informs us, on the average,
one hundred and tiventy heavy gnus a uiinuic. The
scene was grand and awful. The bonfires were
kept blazing. The Henry Clay burned to the
water's edge, the tongues of flame leaping above
1 He made the journey safely, and continued to command his boat
while she was in the United States service, which was till the close of the
war. He was one of the few loyal steamboat captains on the Mississippi
River. He lived to enjoy a long season of peace, dying in 1S93.
96 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
the track of shot and shell. Shells were flying in
every direction ; with their burning fuses they
made their circles, dropping down out of the sky
like stars of the first magnitude, now and then
some bursting in mid-heaven with a million scin-
tillations of light.
All the officers had gone to the upper deck ; and
Mrs. Grant and I stood together, out on the guards,
looking out on the grand and awful scene before
us, shivering with agony.
We were neither of us alarmed for our own
safety, but were overwhelmed with anxiety for
the safety of our brave soldiers, and the success
of the expedition.
Mrs. Grant was very sympathetic and kindly
hearted, and stood there looking out upon the
grand and terrible scenes of war J;hrough her
tears. She was a most devoted wife and mother,
and, like her noble, generous-hearted husband,
was most heartily interested for the safety and
welfare of the brave men who were fighting the
battles of her country.
"Our men are all dead men." '* No one can
live in such a rain of fire and lead," we said to
each other. *'A11 our fleet, and the heroic men
who manned the boats, are surely swallowed in that
fiery channel," we moaned with the tears on our
faces. Only once, it was while the Henry Clay
was burning, we saw for a moment or two the
grand old Stars and Stripes.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 97
" See ! see ! there is our flag," was the glad ex-
clamation ; but the next moment it was hid from
our sight by the smoke of the guns.
We stood there, amid the thunders of this great-
est artillery duel that was ever fought in the world,
for two long hours, unconscious of danger or weari-
ness. Then General Grant came down from the
upper deck with the glad news, for he had been
watching for the signals or rockets that the boats,
one by one, sent up as they got safely through,
that all the boats were through but the Henry
Clay. The roar of the cannon had begun to die
away, when our captain, at the command of General
Grant, turned the prow of his boat up the Missis-
sippi River, and steamed back to Milliken's Bend.
We reached there at daylight, after the most ex-
citing night I had ever known, or perhaps will
ever know again, on the earth.
98 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
I HAVE THE COMFORTER.
IN 1862, just after the terrible battle at Corinth,
Miss., I visited the hospitals in that place.
The havoc had been fearful on both sides, and
the wounded of the two armies crowded every
Going into a hospital known as the College
Building one day, and passing from cot to cot, I
came to a young man who looked very pale and
weak. I asked, —
" Are you sick or wounded } "
He answered, " I am severely wounded ; " and
seeing the look of sympathy on my face, he went
on to tell me all about it.
It was a long, sad story that I need not repeat
He had fallen in the front of the battle-line,
had been taken prisoner, and had lain out all the
night long among the dead ; but he said cheer-
fully, *' When ' our boys ' found me, they took
me up tenderly and brought me here, and now I
am doing well."
But I felt that he was not doing well, that he
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 99
was on the verge of the grave, and that I must
speak to him of the future. He went on to tell
me of his home, — of a mother and sister and
two little brothers in Benton County, Iowa, and
" When I get well enough, I hope they will
give me a furlough and let me go home."
I said tenderly, '' I hope you will get well ; but
how will it be if you should not 1 Are you ready
to die } "
I never shall forget his answer ; it has been
ringing through my soul all these years. It was
as though he was transfigured before me ; there
came into his face such light and joy, as, laying
his hand on his heart, he said, " I have the Com-
forter ! " What volumes in that sentence ! I
did not need to ask him to what denomination he
belono:ed, or when or where he had found the
pearl of great price. It was enough for me to
know that he had the Blessed Comforter which
Jesus promised to his disciples.
But he went on talking sweetly of Christ and
heaven, and the power of Christ to keep. " Re-
ligion," he said, " has kept me through all the
temptations of camp-life, and now I am ready to
live or to die. If the Master sees that it is best
that I should go now, it will be as near heaven
from Corinth as it would be from Iowa."
It was evening time, and I went my way. The
next morning I was early at that hospital, and
lOO A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
first of all went to look after him, but I found his
I said to the wardmaster, ''Where is the young
man who was lying here by this post ? "
He answered, " He is dead."
Oh, how his words went to my heart !
" Where have you laid him ? " I asked.
He led the way out into the back yard, and
there, side by side, stood the seven cot bedsteads
that held the seven dead men that had been car-
ried out the night before. He pointed out his cot,
and left me alone with the dead. The bed-spreads
were drawn up over their faces, and that was all
that was between the dead faces and the sky.
I drew down the bedspread to look upon his
face. I never can express the emotions of that
moment. My heart was thrilled ; for there upon
the dead soldier's face was the very same look of
joy and peace that was on his face when he said,
*' I have the Comforter," and I knew that the
Comforter had been with him till the last. I
wrote to his mother, telling her the sad story of
his sufferings, and the sweet, sweet story of his
After a while an answer came back to me.
She did not know that he was wounded or dead
until she received my letter.
His death was a heavy blow ; but she rose in
Christian triumph above her great sorrow, and in
closing Rer letter said, —
OF THE CIVIL WAR. lOI
" My son may not come back to me, but I shall
go to him, and it is just as near heaven from
Iowa as it was from Corinth ; and the same Co7n-
forter that comforted viy son wJien zuounded and
dying among strange j's comforts me nozvT
What a glorious Christianity we have ! A
religion that can keep under the sorest trials,
that can comfort in the deepest agonies, and that
can give joy and peace in the presence of death,
and leave its divine stamp npon the dead clay.
I02 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
BLOWING UP OF FORT HILL.
LONG the lines of Vicksburg- durinor the
siege, there was no stronger point than
Fort Hill. The land stood high, and the approach
was almost perpendicular at some points. In the
assignment of troops to positions, General John A.
Logan's division was placed in front of Fort Hill.
General Logan was a man of energy, and a great
fighter. With the consent of his superiors in
command, he planned to mine Fort Hill. The
work was begun at a distance in the rear, behind
a bluff, so as to hide the operation from the Con-
federates. General Logan's engineers, with scien-
tific precision, directed the tunnel toward Fort
Hill. There were weary days and nights of dig-
ging before they reached the foundation of the
fort. But there came to the ears of the Con-
federates at last, even amid the thunder of the
cannon and the screaming of shells, the sounds
of the mining. Night after night they listened
with their ears to the ground to the sound of the
Union picks. The Confederates soon began to
countermine, and it was not long before the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. IO3
toilers in the Union tunnel heard the thud of
the Confederate picks nearly over their heads.
They were too high to strike the Union tunnel,
but it was evident that no time must be lost in
blowing up the fort. Tons of powder were car-
ried in, and one bright afternoon about two
o'clock the slow fuse was lighted and the tunnel
was cleared. The regular firing of the battle was
o:oino: on. There was nothino^ in the movements
of the army to indicate that anything unusual was
about to occur.
As I was driving around the lines that day, I
met General McPherson and his staff, riding at
full speed. Halting, he said, —
" You are going in the wrong direction. Fort
Hill will be blown up in a few minutes. Better
drive to General Logan's headquarters."
" Oh, no," I answered ; '* I'll be near enough to
see the terrible tragedy. It will be heart-break-
They galloped on ; but I lingered along the
roadway in sight of Fort Hill.
Suddenly a terrific explosion shook the founda-
tions of the earth, and the heavy timbers of the
fort and tons of earth were lifted skyward. The
next moment the dust and smoke hid everything
from view. General Logan and his men pushed
into the breach, hoping to effect an entrance
before the Confederates had recovered from the
shock ; but a glittering wall of bayonets met them,
I04 A WOMAN'S REMIiVISCENCES
and they were pushed back inch by inch. All
that afternoon and evening hand-grenades were
tossed back and forth as in a game of baseball ;
but an entrance could not be made.
A strange incident occurred at the blowing up
of Fort Hill, which is perhaps without a parallel.
There was at the time of the explosion a slave
boy about eighteen years old working with others
in the Confederate tunnel. This boy was lifted
up with timbers and tons of earth, and thrown
into the Union lines. He fell among the men of
Williams's Battery of Ohio. When the men ran
to pick him up, he exclaimed with terror, "■ Is you
Yanks g-oin' to kill me.-*"
'' Oh, no ; we don't kill colored folks," was the
"Oh, golly, I went up free miles."
*' Could you see anything } " was asked.
"When I'se goin' up," he said, "'most ebery-
thing was comin' down, and when I'se comin'
down 'most ebery thing was goin' up."
"Who commanded Fort Hill.'^" inquired one of
"My massa," replied the boy.
" Where is your massa now } "
"'Fore God, genl'men, I can't tell you; he was
goin' up when I'se comin' down."
Pictures of the boy were preserved by Wil-
liams's Battery, taken soon after the explosion,
showing the boy in the patched tow garments
OF THE CIVIL WAR. IO5
he wore in his wild flight for liberty. General
Logan kept him at his headquarters for some
I saw him there many times. After the war
he went to Washington with them I think, and re-
mained some years.
[06 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
GETTING 2,000 SICK AND
WOUNDED OUT OF HELENA, ARK.
ON the loth of August, 1863, accompanied by
my secretary, Miss Mary Shelton, now Mrs.
Judge Houston of Burlington, Iowa, I started on
my return trip to Vicksburg, with a heavy ship-
ment of hospital supplies.
The Vaji P/uil, the steamer on which we took
passage at St. Louis, reached Helena, Ark., on
the i6th of August.
When the boat landed at that post, we found,
on inquiry, that there were over two thousand
sick and wounded there, and so stopped over with
a part of our supplies, the rest going on to Vicks-
burg, where I had a covered barge that had done
duty on the Yazoo River during the siege, but
which was then lying at the wharf of Vicksburg.
We found the hospitals at Helena, if they may
be called hospitals, in a dreadful condition. The
Methodist and Baptist churches were crowded
with very sick and severely wounded men.
There were very few cots in these two churches ;
most of the men were lying in the narrow pews,
OF THE CIVIL WAR, \OJ
with the scant, uneven cushions for their beds.
The weather was extremely hot, and flies swarmed
over everybody and everything. The faces of
some of the men, who were too helpless to keep
up a continual fight with them, were black with
swarms of hungry, buzzing flies. A few pieces
of mosquito-bars were spread over the faces of
some of the weakest patients ; but, lying loose over
their faces, they were of little advantage. Bar-
rels in which had been shipped pickled pork now
served as water-tanks, and were placed near the
pulpit. They were filled every morning with the
tepid water of the Mississippi River.
There was a barge of ice lying at the land-
ing, brought down on purpose for the sick ; but
I could find no one who had authority to issue
it, and so it was slowly melting away under the
blaze of an August sun.
The men in charge were, however, willing to
sell, and I had money to buy ; and soon great
crystal cakes of Northern ice were floating
in every barrel of water in every hospital in
Acres of tents had been pitched by the road-
side ; and the mud, that in the winter had made
the streets and roadways almost impassable, had
now turned to dust, and every breeze sent it in
clouds into the faces of the sick and wounded
There was another camp, called the Convales-
I08 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
cent Camp, on the sandy beach of the river, the
water being very low at the time. We found no
convalescence there. The sun beat down on the
white tents and the glistening sand till the heat
was like a furnace.
Just back of these hospital tents and churches,
there was a wide cypress swamp, stagnant and
green and deadly.
The men were discouraged. ''We have been
left here to die ; " " No man could recover in
such a place as this," was the verdict of all
who had the strength and courage to express
their feelings. The air was heavy with the
deadly malaria, that ladened every breeze with
It was good service to provide them with light
hospital garments to take the place of their heavy
soiled clothing, and with delicate food to take the
place of coarse army rations ; but, as one man
said, ''It's no use, ladies ; we are all doomed men.
It is only a question of time — your efforts will only
prolong our suffering ; we are all the same as
For two long days, through sun and dust, we
went from hospital to hospital, till we, too, became
Every wrong that they had suffered, every peril
that had threatened them, was burned into our
hearts and brains, till they became our own.
There were no high officials that we could ap-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. IO9
peal to. General Steele was pushing the Con-
federate forces toward Little Rock. There was
no one having authority nearer than Memphis,
Tenn. ; and I determined to go to Memphis, and
invoke the help of the authorities there.
I waited for an up-bound steamer all night. I
could not sleep ; my heart and brain and blood
seemed to be on fire. Thousands of despairing,
suffering men were all around me ; it seemed as
if sleep had forever left my eyes and slumber my
eyelids. All night long I waited for an upward-
bound steamer, and while I waited I wrote letters
to the wives and mothers of the men who had
asked me to write for them. About daylight a
boat came up from Vicksburg, bound for St.
Louis ; and I boarded her for Memphis, leaving
Miss Shelton at the house where we had taken
board, to complete the task of letter-writing.
When I reached Memphis, I drove directly to
the office of the medical director. An orderly
was the sole occupant of the office. He informed
me that the medical director had gone out hunt-
ing, and would not be back till evening. I was
greatly disappointed, as I had hoped much from
him, but I was not discouraged. I decided to ap-
peal to the commanding general.
The adjutant-general was the only person in the
" I wish to see the general," I said, addressing
no A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
** The general is sick to-day, and cannot see any
one. Perhaps he can see you to-morrow."
" My business is important and urgent ; I can-
not wait till to-morrow. Will you take a message
to the general for me t "
" I cannot do that, madam ; the general is very
sick, and I cannot disturb him, but perhaps I can
attend to the business."
Thus encouraged, I began in a very energetic
manner a statement of the condition of the sick
and wounded at Helena. In the midst of it the
door opened, and the general stood before me.
I took in the situation in an instant, realizing that,
sick or well, or whatever his condition, he was the
man who had the authority, and I immediately
turned to him with the case. I pleaded for those
men as one would plead for his own life, and I
concluded with a definite request : " I want you.
General, to send down four steamers immediately,
fitted out with cots and supplies, to bring all these
suffering men away from that death-trap." He
said that it should be done. "But, General," I
continued, " I want the order issued before I leave
this office. I want to go back and tell the men that
the boats are coming — it may save some lives."
" I assume, madam, that the order has been
given," said the adjutant, " and I will promulgate
" May I depend on you to send the boats down
there by to-morrow noon .'' "
OF THE CIVIL WAR. Ill
*'The boats will be there without fail."
''Remember," I said, ''I have no other appeal
but the newspapers and the great, generous
people of the North who sustain them, if you
" I hope, dear madam, that you will make no
mention of this in the papers — the boats will be
there." These last words were uttered as he
closed the door of my carriage. I hurried away,
as a steamer was coming in, and I desired, if pos-
sible, to get back to Helena that night.
I felt a little more certain of the boats coming
because of my threat to appeal to the North
through the newspapers, of which officials stood
in some fear. There were, however, other reasons
why I was justified in putting the case in that
way of which it is not best to speak now. I
reached Helena at half-past eleven o'clock that
night, full of hope, and ready to rest and sleep.
The next morning early we were out in the
hospitals, not for the purpose of distributing
supplies, but as the messengers of glad tidings.
And never did women go with gladder hearts to
bear good news, since Mary left the tomb of her
risen Lord, than we did that morning, as we went
from hospital to hospital telling the men the boats
were coming. We went to the two churches first ;
and in each I took a position in the pulpit, and
called out at the top of my voice, —
" Attention, soldiers ! Four hospital steamers
112 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
will be here to-day to take you to Northern hos-
pitals." The effect was magical. Men who were
lying seemingly half-dead in their hopeless de-
spair lifted their heads, and questioned anx-
" What did you say } " and the glad message
was repeated again and again, with the assurance
that the boats would surely come.
"■ Then I'll get well." ** Where are my shoes .^"
** Where is my hat } " and so we left them getting
ready for the journey, and went from hospital to
hospital with the glad message.
In one tent by the roadside, a beautiful brown-
eyed boy about sixteen years old, after I had made
the glad proclamation, questioned, " Is that so,
lady .? "
" Yes, it is so ; we are looking for the boats
every minute." He slipped out of his cot; and,
kneeling beside it, he lifted his eyes heavenward,
and the tears running down his face, he repeated
over and over, —
" Thank God, deliverance has come at last."
In one ward a man looked at us very earnestly,
and then questioned, —
" Is it the truth ye are telling us, now ? "
"Yes, it is the truth."
" Now, surely, ye wouldn't be after decavin' a
poor sick man that's most dead with the heat,
and the flies, and the cypress swamp, would ye,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. II3
" No, sir, I would not."
My anxiety was intense. What if the boats
should not come } I stepped out of the tent and
looked up the river, and there in full view the
little fleet of four boats were coming around the
bend of the river.
We both cried out in our joy, "The boats!
the boats are coming ! " but tears of thankfulness
almost choked our voices. The excitement was
intense. No one stood on the order of his going.
The surgeons were willing all should go, and de-
sired to go with them, and they did. Every man
who could, rushed for the boats. Some who
were not able to walk managed some way to get
from their cots and crawl out toward the boats.
Oh ! it was pitiful to see the helpless ones, the
wounded ones, who could not move, waiting with
anxiety for their turn to be carried to the boats,
and pleading, '' Please, ladies, don't let me be left
" No, no ! Don't be alarmed, you shall go,"
was repeated over and over. At last all were
crowded into the four steamers, and the boats
steamed away with their precious freight up the
Mississippi River. We stood at the landing as
the boats moved away. The poor fellows out on
the guards tried to give three cheers, but the
effort was a failure. We waved our handker-
chiefs, and they waved their hats, or their hands,
as long as the boats were in sight.
114 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
What a load of anxiety and responsibility was
lifted from our hearts !
Gathering up the supplies still left over, we
took the first steamer bound for Vicksburg.
When we reached the conquered city we found
thousands of sick and wounded still crowded into
the hospitals there, and we remained for some
time ministering to them as best we could.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 15
THE CLOCK AT VICKSBURG.
VICKSBURG was situated on a high bluff.
In the centre of the town stood the Court
On the Court House tower, there was a large
white-faced clock, that turned its four white faces
to the four points of the compass. Very early in
the struggle, while yet the army was on the west
side of the river, the artillerymen of the Union
army attempted to destroy that clock, and by
stopping the time confuse the enemy. There was
quite a rivalry as to who should with shot or shell
dash that clock to pieces.
But somehow they could not hit the clock.
The rivalry continued ; and when the army envi-
roned Vicksburg, there were eighteen miles of
batteries pointing towards the town and often
turned towards the clock. Shot and shell flew
thick and fast, riddling the flag that waved above
the clock, tearing away part of the stairway
below, and chipping the casement that enclosed
it. But steadily the hours and days went by,
till weeks lengthened into months, and yet the
Il6 A WOMAN'S /REMINISCENCES
clock untouched and unhalting measured off
After the surrender I climbed the broken stairs,
and saw the damage the shot and shell had done.
The framework was chipped all around. But I
found out why the shot and shell could not hit the
Aunt I)inah, the cook, had said to me, —
*' You oter see our preacher — he's the power-
fulest preacher in dis town, he is."
I expressed a willingness to see him, of which
I suppose he was duly informed by Aunt Dinah,
as he called the next day.
He was a middle-aged man of strong muscular
frame ; and his face, which was black, was sur-
mounted by a wealth of white hair. I found him
very intelligent, and he gave me a great deal of
information about the life in Vicksburg during
the siege. At last I asked him how it happened
that the colored people's church, a large brick
structure, was in ruins.
" Was it destroyed by shot and shell } " I in-
'' No, missus ; no shot nor shell ever cum near
dat church ; but you see we colored people ust to
go dare to pray, an' we prayed mighty powerful
for de Yanks an' for freedom. Den de white
people da cumed, an' den we had secret prayer.
Somebody would say, ' We'll have secret prayer,'
den we knode jus' what to pray fur. But de
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 11/
white folks dey 'spicioned wat we wus praying
fur, and dey tore dow' de church."
" And that stopped your praying ? "
*' Oh, no, missus ; dat couldn't stop our praying.
We jus' 'greed to pray when de town clock struck
twelve night or day."
" Why, our men tried to stop that clock ; hun-
dreds of guns were turned upon it during the
siege, but somehow they did not happen to hit it."
The old man's face was radiant. The joy of his
heart was shining through the black skin, as he
swayed and clapped his hands. " Oh, honey,
dar's no happen about dat. De good Lor' he jus'
put his han' over it, and kep' it goin' an' goin' for
us poor color folks to pray by."
What perfect trust ! It is easier to accept the
theory of the old colored preacher than to explain
why it was that the army, with a cordon of guns
pointing toward that clock, did not reach the clock,
or stop the regular swing of its pendulum, or the
merry chimes of its bell.
Mrs. Margaret E. Sangster and myself met at
the house of a mutual friend on the banks of the
Hudson River one beautiful cloudless day, and I
told her this story of the clock at Vicksburg, and
she immediately wrote the following poem : —
Il8 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
THE CLOCK AT VICKSBURG.
Margaret E. Sangster.
Month by month the shot and shell
'Round the 'leaguered city fell.
Through its fiery tropic air
Throbbed the anguish of despair.
Stubbornly the fated gray
Struggled through each pallid day.
Stubbornly the loyal blue
Fought the weary conflict through.
High above the central square
Towered the old clock, white and fair.
Steadily its iron tongue
Over strife and silence rung.
Till the sullen foemen swore
"They shall keep that clock no more."
All day long with bated breath
Life looked steadily at death.
Little ones forgot to play,
Christians ne'er forgot to pray.
Fair through all the siege it stood,
That old clock in sober mood,
As though now and then 'twould frown
On the sadness of the town.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. II9
Whistling balls around it flew,
Black against the sky's deep blue.
All untouched, it told the time
With a regnant cheery chime,
Till the hour when victory
Broke the spell — the place set free.
In the city's open square
Swarthy faces sobbed in prayer,
•' Bless the Lord ! the work is done;
Bless the Lord ! our freedom's won.
By that clock in yonder street.
True as steel our sad hearts beat.
In our homes or by the way,
When it struck, we paused to pray.
At its noon-hour day by day
Every bonds tiiaji stopped to pray. ^^
Was it strange that old clock stood
Safe amid the storm of blood?
Why, of course it could not fall,
Guarded by the Lord of all.
Who through choiring songs of heaven
Hears the cry of earth's forgiven.
And till now its honest face
Is a witness of His grace.
120 A JVOAfAJV'S REMINISCENCES
SHARING POOR QUARTERS WITH
DOROTHY L. DIX.
IN the winter of 1 864-1 865, the Union forces
were concentrated in front of Petersburg and
Richmond. There was more or less skirmishing
and fighting all the while between the two great
armies facing each other for the last desperate
The hospitals were overcrowded at City Point
and Point of Rocks. Every cot was occupied,
every tent was crowded, and the thousands of
troops coming down quartered wherever they
could find a vacant place.
I had not been in the cabin of a steamer bound
for City Point very long till Miss Dorothy L. Dix
came in. After the usual greetings, she informed
me that she, too, was going to City Point.
Miss Dix was the stateliest woman I ever saw,
and she was very dignified in manner and conver-
Although at that time she was about sixty
years old, she was tall, straight as an arrow, and
unusually slender. Her hair, which was abun-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 121
dant, was very dark brown, almost black, and
was combed and coiled on the top of her head,
except two locks in front, which were combed
smoothly over each ear and carried in a loop up
over the coil on top of her head. This peculiar
manner of dressing her hair seemed to add to her
height and dignity. Her dress was always exceed-
ingly plain, but neat, and her linen collar and cuffs
were always immaculate. She wore no jewels, not
even a breastpin. She required the same degree
of plainness on the part of her nurses.
It was not long after the boat left the dock at
Washington till we had passed Alexandria and
Mount Vernon, and were steaming on to Fortress
Monroe at the mouth of the Potomac, with the
ocean in full view.
There was always a long stop at this point, as it
was not only a strong military station, well-fortified
and strongly guarded by troops and gunboats, but
it was a great hospital centre. Thousands of sick
and wounded lay sorely stricken in these great
barracks and tents by the sea.
It was about nine o'clock that evening when
we reached City Point. We had discussed the
question of lodging before we left the boat, and
Miss Dix had said, —
" I have no concern. There are always plenty
of cots, and I'll find room in some of the nurses'
tents," and she urged me to go with her.
But I was equally confident, and assured her
122 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
that the Christian Commission would take care of
me. Mr. Cole, of Boston, the chief agent, was
standing beside a tent, in deep thought, when I
approached. When he saw me he lifted up his
hand in dismay.
*'I have no place for you ; every foot of space
is occupied," was his greeting.
" How about the little tent where I stayed the
'' It is full of delegates lying on the ground on
their blankets. I've given up my little corner to
Dr. , and have no place to sleep myself."
" How about the storeroom .'' "
His face brightened.
'* I never thought of that ; but it's full of bar-
rels and boxes, and is not in order."
" No matter ; there will be shelter and room,
and there is a lock on the door, and I'll get on all
A candle and some matches were procured, and,
accompanied by the agent and his assistant, I went
into the storeroom near by. It was a great, rough,
strong plank barracks ; boxes and barrels were
piled up nearly to the roof. There was a vacant
space where they handled the supplies, near the
''There is not a cot on the premises ; they have
all been taken for the sick and wounded. What
will you do .'* "
"I'll sleep on the floor, of course," I answered
OF THE CIVIL WAR 123
But they turned some of the boxes around, and
gathered up all the straw and shavings that were
in sight, that had been used in packing, and put
them together, and I placed my satchel for a pil-
low ; and after I had assured them that it would
be all right, they left, and I locked the door after
They had not been gone ten minutes till there
was a knock at the door. I went very close to the
door and called, —
"What is wanted?"
"Mrs. Wittenmyer, Miss Dix is here, and she
has no place to stay. Can she come in.?"
"Certainly; of course she can."
And I opened the door, and that stately woman,
with all her dignity upon her, which was really
a part of herself, entered, glad to find even such
a shelter as that. My candle lighted up the build-
ing sufficiently to show its unsightliness, and the
dust and rubbish that were all about us. As Miss
Dix was old enough to have been my mother, of
course there was but one thing to do, and that
was to give up my bed of shavings and straw to
her, and with the stub of an old broom try to clear
a place on another part of the floor for myself.
She generously offered to divide her bed ; but
there was not enough to divide, so I spread my
blanket-shawl down on the rough, uneven floor
for my bed, and I took my satchel for a pillow.
I was weary and anxious, and for a few mo-
124 ^ WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
ments I felt the service was too hard to be en-
dured much longer. But there came another
train of thought, as I heard the booming of the
cannon at no great distance.
'' How glad the brave men on the picket-line,
where to sleep is death, the men in the trenches,
and working the guns, would be to have a good
dry floor to sleep on, and the right and privilege
to sleep," I said to myself. Somehow my bed
grew soft and my pillow downy, and all the clouds
of care and spirit of self-pity cleared away before
the magic power of patriotism and sympathy for
the brave men who stood so gallantly for my coun-
try and its flag ; and I never in all my life had
a better bed, or a sweeter night's sleep.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 2$
HARDSHIPS OF CAMP-LIFE AT
THERE was little level ground on which to
camp about the lines. Excavations had to
be made to get a level place to sleep. So all the
bluffs around Vicksburg were catacombed to af-
ford sleeping apartments. No wonder there was
sickness — no wonder Death held high carnival
on both sides of the lines. It was not only dan-
gerous, but almost impossible, to reach the little
hospitals under the shadow of the guns. Very
many times driven at full speed I reached them,
but it was at great peril. How the memory of
those hospital scenes comes back to me now !
At one point I went down under the guns of
the fort at one of the most exposed places, with a
carriage-load of supplies for the little fort hospi-
tal under the bluff, just behind the heavy guns.
I found when I reached there that the position
was so dangerous that it would be madness, so
the officers said, to try to get out of there till I
could go under the cover of darkness. But the
afternoon was well spent in making lemonade and
126 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
ministering to the men who had been stricken
down with fever and hardships.
The ceaseless roar of artillery, and scream of
shot and shell ; the sharp whiz and whirr of small
shot just over our heads ; the June sun blazing
down upon us with torrid heat, and no shelter
for the sick but the white canvas tents, perched
on the sides of the bluffs in places excavated
for them, the bank cutting off the circulation
of air, — were almost unbearable. How the poor
fever-racked heads and fainting hearts ached amid
the ceaseless din and the dust and heat of these
little camp hospitals ! One poor fellow, with
parched lips and cheeks red with the fever that
was burning through every vein, said, " I got a
little sleep a while ago, and I dreamed that I was
at the old spring ; but just as I was taking a good
cool drink I waked up."
I partially met his ^cravings for a drink from the
well at the old home by giving him generous
draughts of lemonade, but when night came on
I had to leave him. Poor boy, I never knew
whether he got back to the old spring and home
or not. There was no cool water there to allay
his burning thirst. One of the hardships of that
long summer campaign was the lack of good cool
water. There were some springs, and a few wells
were dug ; but at points water had to be hauled
lone: distances. Think of thousands of men to be
supplied — of the thousands of horses and mules,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 12/
the great burden-bearers of the army, that must
have their thirst quenched.
Most of the water for the use in camp was
hauled up from the Mississippi River or the Yazoo,
through the hot sun in barrels, and stood in camp
During that dreadful day I sat down in one of
the tents for a little while ; there was a patch
of weeds growing near the tent-door. I noticed
the weeds shaking as though partridges were run-
ning through them. I called attention to the
matter, which made the surgeon smile, as he ex-
plained, '' Why, those are bullets ! "
" Bullets } Do bullets come so near as that } "
** Oh, yes," he answered cheerfully; "they are
flying around here quite thick."
"Do you consider yourself safe while in this
tent } It seems to me the bullets are coming very
" It is considered very safe. The bullets fall a
little short you see."
All the while I sat there I watched the bullets
coming over and clipping through the weeds.
Three days from that time an officer was killed
while sitting in the same chair on the same spot
where I had sat and watched the bullets shaking
128 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A PAINFUL ACCIDENT.
THE smoke of the battle-field at Shiloh had
cleared away ; the dead had been buried ;
the wounded gathered up, and their ghastly
wounds dressed — so that the people who came
crowding to the battle-field saw little of the horror
Among the multitudes who came down with
supplies and words of sympathy and encourage-
ment was Governor Harvey of Wisconsin, a grand,
loyal man. He walked over the battle-field, the
scene of the recent terrible conflict, and through
the hospitals improvised for the accommodation
of the thousands who had been wounded, and
over the score and more of steamboats where
many of the wounded were quartered.
He had given his promise of support to the men
who stood between the North and the sword and
torch of war. And now, with a hasty farewell
to the crowd of distinguished patriots and officers
who came down to wish him Godspeed on his re-
turn to the loyal State of Wisconsin, he stepped
upon the single plank that bridged the little space
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 29
between the shore and the boat. There were a
few steps forward — a misstep — a sudden plunge,
and the flowing tide ingulfed him out of sight.
There was a moment of awful suspense — he did
not rise. Men plunged into the water, reaching
out their hands in every direction to find the lost
one, but alas ! he was not found till life was ex-
The boat on which he was going to take pas-
sage was lying just above our sanitary boat, and a
number of us saw him make the misstep and fall.
That was a sad day to us all — a sad day for the
Army of the Tennessee — a sad day for the State
of Wisconsin — a sad day for the wife, a grand,
noble woman, who, crushed by the heavy blow,
waited in almost speechless agony for the bring-
ing home of her dead.
But in those heroic days women did not sit
down in speechless grief to weep over their dead,
but, crushing back their tears, consecrated them-
selves to the cause of humanity and their country.
Mrs. Governor Harvey was no exception to this
rule. Still staggering under this stunning blow,
she consecrated herself to service in the Sanitary
Commission and to the hospital work, and in
blessed and unwearying service for others sol-
aced her own deep grief. Who shall know how
much comfort and encouragement the presence
of this fair, beautiful, refined lady brought into
the hospitals where so many homesick and pain-
130 A IVOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
weary boys lay on their beds, longing for the
sight of a woman's face, and tender touch of a
woman's hand ?
Often amid the sickening scenes of the over-
crowded hospitals, I met her on her weary round
of holy service.
And at the close of the war she was active in
the establishment of a home for the orphan chil-
dren of soldiers in Wisconsin.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. I3I
BURSTING OF A SHELL BEHIND
THE line of battle was so closely drawn around
Vicksburg that every camp, and hospital,
and wagon-train with provisions and ammunition,
was under fire.
Every worker of the Christian and Sanitary
Commissions, who ventured out to labor with the
sick and the dying, knew that the Confederate
sharpshooters at many points were within easy
range, and that the flying shot and shell, that at
times almost darkened the sky, were liable to
drop in the pathway of the worker, and blot him
or her out of existence.
None but the more courageous remained on
the field. Curiosity-hunters, and bombastic dress-
parade workers, fled from the scene as from a
battle-field ; for in truth every inch of ground
about Vicksburg was a battle-field.
The perplexities of the service, and the dangers
attending every effort made to relieve the suffer-
ing, were so great, and the laborers in conse-
quence so few, that every helper was overwhelmed
132 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
One day, coming in from a weary round, a day's
work of unusual peril and hardship, we reached
a point in the road sheltered from the enemy by
a clump of trees.
Though at no great distance from the Confed-
erate guns, it seemed more secure because we
were out of sight of the frowning batteries.
Suddenly there was a crash in the timber, and
we knew and heard no more. We were all so
stunned that we did not know that a shell, crush-
ing through the tops of the trees, had struck the
ground in the middle of the roadway not forty
feet behind our carriage.
If it had come a moment sooner, we would all
have been scattered in fragments to the four winds.
As it was, the road was torn up so that it was
impossible for teams to pass till it was repaired ;
the horses fell to the earth, the driver seemed
dazed for a time, the carriage was covered with
the dirt thrown out, for an ox might have been
buried in the pit that that one shell dug out.
Though it was the main thoroughfare, along which
much of the ammunition and provisions were
hauled, fortunately no teams were nearer than
our own, and no one was killed or hurt.
If these lines should fall under the eyes of
George, the driver, a soldier detailed for that ser-
vice, he will excuse me for saying that he was
about the worst frightened person I ever saw.
That evening he said, —
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 33
" I wish you would release me, and ask for some
one else. I'd rather be with my regiment behind
the fortifications than driving around this way all
'' You'll feel better about it in the morning,
George — you will get over the shock. And
then, too, remember that those who are behind
the fortifications may be ordered at any time to
make a charge, which would be more dangerous
than the work you are now doing. But think
about it ; and if in the morning you would rather
go back to your regiment, I will have the change
The next morning George was all right, and he
continued to drive for me until after Vicksburg
134 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
MEETING A REBEL WOMAN AT
THERE was great rejoicing over the fall of
Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. The gun-
boats and transport vessels were pressing on to
Nashville, which was occupied by the Union army
soon after the fall of Fort Henry and Fort Don-
elson. I went up on the first transport.
The women were mostly left behind in the
scramble to get out of the city, and they were
more intense in war spirit and partisan feeling
than the men. In the heat of the excitement the
chief hotel was thronged with both parties, where
I took lodgings. The women sung ditties about
Beauregard and Davis before the door of my bed-
room till midnight, at intervals.
The great parlor of the hotel was a scene of
the utmost confusion, judging from the tumult of
The women blamed the men about them.
*' Every man who is able to bear arms ought to
be ashamed to be seen outside of a war-camp in
days like these," was the sharp rejoinder of a
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 35
woman to her husband. I did not hear his an-
swer, but suppose from her reply that he said he
would only be throwing away his life.
** Throwing away your life, indeed ! A man
that is not true to our cause at such a time ought
not to live.''
Some one was sitting at the piano, and banged
the keys of the instrument in wildest fury to
drown the sound of the contentions.
The next morning, in the dining-room, every
Southern man and woman gave us all a wide
berth, not deigning to sit at the same end of the
After breakfast I went for a few minutes into
the parlor. The lady whose voice I heard in fal-
setto the night before followed me, accompanied
by her colored nurse-girl carrying her baby, per-
haps six months old.
I had no purpose of controversy in my heart ;
and so when the lady said, " My baby is named
after the best man in the world — Beauregard," I
'' I suppose you Yankees think you can conquer
us .? "
"That is what the people of the North hope
"Well, you can't. There is not men enough in
the North to conquer us ; for when you kill the
men off, the women will take up arms."
"Well, madam, there are thousands of men
136 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
gathering and drilling in the North, and they will
soon be here ; and it's their firm purpose to main-
tain the Union, cost what it will."
*' They'll kill the women, will they ? "
"They will conquer tJie South.''
" Contemptible hirelings ! they'll kill the wo-
men, will they ? " she hissed.
" I don't think they want to kill the women ;
but if that is necessary for the maintenance of
the Union, I suppose they will have to do it."
** Wretches ! wretches ! They'll kill the women,
will they?" she screamed, and her eyes blazed
fire and scintillated like the eyes of a maniac. I
thought she was going to leap upon me in her
fury. We were standing facing each other ; and I
made up my mind that if she did assault me that
I would do my little share of fighting, and choke
a little of the treason out of her. But she
changed her mind, and rushed from the room,
slamming the door after her with such force as to
shake the house to its foundations, A year after
that she was playing the role of a Union woman,
and was quite popular as a loyal Southerner among
No one in these calm days can imagine the
fiery, cruel spirit of war. I was not afraid ; the
Stars and Stripes were over us, and the Union
army within call.
But what seems laughable to me now, was ex-
ceedingly exasperating and insulting at that time.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 37
There is no question about the matter — the South-
ern women, in their blind, partisan fury, prolonged
the contest to the last extreme of desperation.
They could not believe defeat possible.
No longer we hear the clash of arms,
And the cannon's fearful booming ;
No longer the torch of war alarms,
Our cities and homes consuming:
The smoke of battle has cleared away,
And Peace her vigil is keeping,
Though wet with tears are the flowers we lay.
Where our gallant dead are sleeping.
138 A WOMAN'S REMimSCENCES
VISITING HOSPITALS UNDER
I CAME down the river with a heavy lot of sup-
plies at the beginning of the siege. I sent an
order to the quartermaster for an ambulance. In-
stead of sending the ambulance, he sent me a fine
silver-mounted, easy carriage captured at Jack-
son, which I afterwards found drew the fire of the
It was reported in Vicksburg that an old, ex-
perienced general, too crippled to ride on horse-
back, made his rounds in that carriage, and the
Confederates made it a target every day.
One captain of sharpshooters told Dr. Max-
well of Davenport, Iowa, that his men had sent
more than a hundred shots after that carriage, sup-
posing some high official was the occupant. He
was very much shocked to know that they had
been shooting at a lady. In most cases the shot
fell low, but the wheels were chipped till they
were quite a curiosity.
I drove out in company with Mrs. General Stone
to the nearest hospital one day. We had gone
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 39
through the tents, and attended to the business
that had brought us, and were standing beside the
carriage, when a shell from Vicksburg burst near
us, scattering fragments all around us. To me
the shock was terrific. I could feel my flesh crawl
in the most uncomfortable way, and every hair on
my head seemed to stand upright.
"Are you so near the enemy's guns.-*" I ques-
'* Oh, yes ; all the hospitals are under fire. A
shell burst in this hospital a few days ago, killing
one man and wounding three others."
" It's horrible that sick men must be placed
under fire. Why don't the authorities remove the
sick and wounded to a safe distance } " I spoke
with some spirit.
"You forget," said the surgeon, "that General
Johnson's army is near, and that we are forced to
draw in our lines. We would rather take the risk
of a random shell than to risk being between two
contending armies during a battle."
That was quite another view of the matter,
and now I was brought face to face with the
facts of the situation. If I visited the hospitals I
must do it under fire. I had been under fire be-
fore, but only for an hour. To go out day after
day under a rain of lead was quite a different
I went back to the Sanitary boat at the Yazoo
Landing in a very thoughtful mood. The muddy.
140 A IVOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
sluggish stream was well named Yazoo, meaning
the River of Death.
That night was spent in prayer. The next
morning I arose with a courage born of faith. I
seemed immortal ; not a bullet had been moulded
that could hit me.
I went out to my work without a fear. My car-
riage was struck time and again, and bullets
whizzed past me, but never a feeling of fear crept
into my heart. I was "under the shadow of His
wings, and he covered me with His feathers."
Mrs. General Stone, whose husband commanded
the right wing of the army, and who now lives at
Mount Pleasant, Iowa, camped with her father out
on the bluffs. She invited me to leave the sluggish
river with its miasma, and come up and stay with
her; and I accepted the invitation. She had a
beautiful tent put up beside her own ; and as the
lizards were very abundant, the feet of our cots
were put in jars of water, and we tucked up the
covers about us so as to keep them off of our beds.
We could hear their little feet scratching as they
raced after each other over the tents.
The soldiers got used to them, but somehow
we women shrank from contact with anything so
nearly akin to the serpent family.
Night and day the battle went on. The shells
with their burning fuses would sail up into mid-
air like stars of the first magnitude, and burst into
a shower of sparks and fragments, setting the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. I4I
heavens ablaze with their scintillation, and jarring
the foundations of the earth with the thunder of
We became so accustomed to the horrid sounds
of war that the absence or abatement of it would
awaken us out of our sleep.
142 A WOiMAN'S REMINISCENCES
EXHIBITIONS OF MOTHER-LOVE.
To What Lengths Affections would carry
Women in the War.
WAR brought heavy burdens of anxiety and
sorrow to the women on both sides of the
lines during the terrible struggle of 1 861-1865.
The anxious waiting for news from the battle-
field, the heart-breaking scrutiny of the list of
wounded and killed, cannot, with their sorrows, be
measured by words and phrases.
One Philadelphia mother, whose husband and
son were in the war, received news that her son
had been killed in one of the smaller battles of
Virginia. She determined to recover the body,
and bring it home for burial. After many delays
and hindrances, she reached the regiment of which
he was a member. She had walked three miles
to get there, and had left the casket she had
brought down at the station, where fire had de-
stroyed everything but the track.
The soldiers brought up the cofifin, and the next
morning exhumed the body. They had wrapped
him carefully in his blanket, and marked the spot
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 43
with a rough board, on which they had carved
his name and regiment and company with their
knives. When they lifted him out, and laid him
at her feet, she recognized him at once.
''Yes, this is my boy," she said, pushing the
damp hair back from his fair young face.
The soldiers, who were glad to render the
heart-broken mother any service they could, car-
ried the coffin down to the railroad track, where
the station had once stood, and instructed her
how to '' flag a train ; " and assuring her that '' a
train might come at any time," they left her there
with her dead.
There was no human dwelling in sight. She
seated herself on her son's coffin, beside the
charred timbers and ashes, to await the coming
of the train. Behind her was the little valley
where the Union troops were stationed to guard
an important pass. On either side of her were
mountains that rose majestically, that might be
infested with wild beasts and creeping things.
Before her was a little brook and the bands of
iron along its banks that rendered it possible to
make the journey through that mountain gorge
by rail. The afternoon wore away, but no train
came ; the shades of night closed her in, but no
sound of wheels greeted her ears.
She built a little fire so as to signal the train.
The sharp notes of the night birds, the fighting
of the wildcats on the side of the mountain, the
144 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
mysterious noises in the air, the sound of stealthy
footsteps near her, — all fell with fearful distinct-
ness on her ears ; for every nerve was strained to
its utmost tension. But no train came to relieve
her weary vigil. Her garments were wet with the
dews of night ; and she added wood to the smoul-
dering fire, for the cheerful blaze comforted her.
As the night wore on, all nature seemed at rest.
The night birds ceased their calls, the wildcats
climbed higher up the moimtain, and the whip-
poorwill ceased its mournful song. But this was
even more terrible, as every remaining sound was
more distinct. The rustling of a leaf or a noise
in the bushes sent the blood hurrying to her
At last gray streaks of light began to climb
above the mountain in the east, and were tinged
with purple and orange, and soon the white light
of day fell about her ; but it was not till late in
the afternoon of the second day that a train came,
and her weary vigil ended. For twenty-six hours
she had been alone with her dead.
She reached Washington without delay, and be-
fore boarding the train for Philadelphia saw the
coffin of her son put on board. But when she
reached Philadelphia she found that by some mis-
take the. remains had been left at Baltimore. She
telegraphed back, and waited in the station till
they were brought to her, and then followed them
to her own house.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 45
Afterward her husband was killed ; and she went
to the front again, and secured his body, and
brought it home for interment. Who shall meas-
ure the anguish of the women who watched at
home till there was one dead in almost every
A mother in Maine received the news that her
only son had been wounded and taken prisoner,
and had been sent to Richmond. " I am going
to him," she said. Her husband and neighbors
tried to dissuade her. On her journey toward the
front she called on Governor Andrew of Massa-
chusetts. '■'■ My dear madam," he said, " I can
do nothing for you. The only thing I could do
would be to give you a letter of introduction to
"Well, give me that."
When she reached Washington she called on
the President, and after a weary waiting was
shown into his presence. " Why, madam," said
the great-hearted Lincoln, " I can do nothing for
you. If he were within our own lines, I would
give you a pass, but I cannot send you to Rich-
mond. At the best, I could only get you beyond
our own pickets."
" Then, please give me a pass beyond your
This was done, and she passed the Union lines
to fall into the hands of the Confederate pickets.
The latter refused to allow her to proceed.
146 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
" I am going right on to Richmond. Shoot if
you will." And she started on. They did not
shoot, but took her into camp, and from the head-
quarters of that command she was sent on to
When she reached the hospital where her son
lay, the surgeon refused to allow her to see him.
" I must see him ! I'm sure it will do him good
to see his mother ! "
As soon as the son saw her, he cried out, —
" There is my mother ! I knew she would
come. I'll get well now." And sure enough he
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 47
THE SURRENDER OF VICKSBURG.
FOR days there had been unusual activity in
the camp. The Fourth of July was to be
celebrated by a general bombardment ; and if
there were signs of yielding, a sharp assault and
an attempt to capture the city would be made.
The besieged party was not in ignorance of what
was going on. The pickets and sharpshooters,
and the soldiers at points where the fortifications
touched each other, had given the whole pro-
gramme of a grand Fourth of July celebration in
boastful proclamations. Everything was at fever-
heat on the 3d of July, though the firing was kept
up at the usual rate till about one or two p.m.
Suddenly all firing ceased. The silence could
almost be felt. There had been pauses before,
lasting an hour or more, during interviews under
a flag of truce. But as the afternoon slowly
wore away, and the firing was not resumed, the
excitement became intense. Later, it was re-
ported that General Grant and General Pember-
ton had met under a great spreading oak-tree just
inside the Union lines, and that General Grant
148 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
had made his terms known in the memorable
phrase " tinconditio7ial S2irrendei\'
It was a sad hour for Pemberton. His army
was starving ; his ammunition and his fighting
force were so diminished that to continue the
siege seemed madness. And yet he had held out
so long hoping help might come — it might now
be near him — that it was hard to surrender. His
was a fearful struggle. Not many words passed
between these two men as they stood there, a
little apart from their staff officers. Later, the
time of the surrender was fixed at 9 a.m. on the
Fourth of July, which was the next morning.
The news flew through the camp at lightning
speed. Soon everybody, sick and well, knew
that Vicksburg had surrendered. The firing had
ceased, but on both sides every man stood at his
There was little sleep for any of us that night;
the stillness was so unusual and impressive, and
the excitement so intense, that sleep fled.
The morning of the Fourth dawned fair and
beautiful. Very early in the morning, in com-
pany with Dr. Maxwell and Mrs. General Stone,
I drove out to General Logan's headquarters,
whence the army was to begin the triumphant
march into the city.
We took our position on the battlements of
Fort Hill, where we had a full view of the city
and surrounding country. The point where we
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 49
Stood had been more sharply contested than any
other. The fort had been undermined and blown
up ; and amid the confusion and disaster that
buried a hundred or more in its ruins, an attempt
had been made to scale the fort and enter the
city. Before the dust of the explosion had cleared
away a hand-to-hand battle was raging, and hand-
grenades were being tossed as freely as balls on a
playground, which exploded with great destruc-
tion. The roar of battle had raged again and
again about that fort, but now all was calm and
still at the dawning of this day of peace. As far
as we could see, the muskets were stacked, and
white handkerchiefs were fluttering above them.
The Confederate and Union soldiers stood along
the lines in groups, talking as friendly as though
they had never exchanged shot with intent to kill.
But there was no loud talking — all seemed to feel
that it was a moment of deep solemnity.
At last the stillness was broken by the tramp
of horsemen ; and General Grant, with his staff of
officers following, passed near us and honored us
with a military salute, — not with guns, but that
peculiar and graceful lifting the right hand, open,
to the full length of the arm, with a graceful wave,
and touching the cap, — a salute we never see in
civil life, unless some old soldier forgets himself.
Following close upon these came General McPher-
son and his staff. General McPherson was the
most kingly looking man on horseback I ever saw.
150 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
In personal appearance he was a prince among
men at any time ; but on this glad morning he
seemed to be grander and taller under the enthu-
siasm and flush of victory than ever before. Gen-
eral Logan followed with his staff and his division
We stood there with our field-glasses in our
hands, watching them as they marched down into
the city. There was a long halt. They ap-
proached each other forming into long double
columns, then we saw, opposite the blue, the
gray forming into lines. Every eye was strained
to take in the scene. There was a movement
forward of officers, the flash in the bright sun-
light of swords as they were handed over to the
conquerors, and then handed back; for General
Pemberton and his staff were allowed to carry
their swords, and enjoy the freedom of the city.
They had conducted an honorable warfare and
must not be humiliated.
But now there was another point of interest.
The Confederate flag had floated over the Court
House tower through all these months of conflict,
but the Stars and Stripes was now to take its
place. Soon a little glinting of our loved flag
came into view. But what could be the matter .?
Surely a tangle in the ropes could be adjusted in
a few minutes. All stood in breathless anxiety.
Such a delay at such a time was startling, and
every moment seemed an hour to those who were
OF THE CIVIL WAR. I51
watching from a distance. At last with rapid
sweep the Stars and Stripes was run up to the
top of the staff, and a heaven-sent breeze unfurled
it to our delighted eyes.
What a burst of enthusiasm greeted it. We
waved our handkerchiefs, while men who had
faced the cannon's mouth for the flag sobbed in
their wild joy, and flung their caps into the air.
But the Confederate soldiers, as far as we could
see, stood with folded arms, silent, motionless.
And yet with all our gladness that the guns had
ceased to belch forth their murderous fire, there
was a deep, fathomless undertone of sorrow over
the cruel, bloody work of red-handed war, that the
glad acclaim of triumph and victory could not
152 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
HEALED SOUL AND BODY.
IN 1863, just after the fall of Vicksburg, I vis-
ited the hospitals in Helena, Ark. Going
into a large ward one day, filled with sick and
wounded soldiers, I saw in the farthest corner of
the room a very sick man. I noticed him the
more because he was looking towards me, and
there was upon his face such a look of agony and
despair as I had never seen on any human face
before, and I trust I may never see again. I said
to the surgeon, who had stepped in with me, —
''You have one very sick man here," And
when I designated him, he answered, "Yes, he
is almost gone ; poor fellow, he'll not live long."
I said no more, — my heart was too deeply touched,
-^but went directly to him. As I approached his
cot-side, I said tenderly, "You seem to be very
sick, my friend." The look of agony deepened in
his face as he answered, —
^^ My friend ! I have no friend. I am here dy-
ing among strangers, and nobody cares whether
I live or die."
"Oh, don't say that. You have many friends
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 53
in the North;" and I was going to say, ''I'll
be your friend," but I remembered how empty
such a profession of friendship would be on the
part of a stranger, and instead, I said, "There
is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Can't you make Jesus your friend in this dark
hour ? "
When I spoke the name of Jesus, he cried
" Oh ! would that Jesus were my friend ; but I
am a great sinner."
''But Jesus is the sinner's friend."
"O lady ! you don't know what a wretched
sinner I am, to what lengths of wickedness I've
run, or you would not think that Jesus could save
But I answered, " You don't know what a great
Saviour we have, or you would not doubt. He is
the mighty God, and he is able to save to the
uttermost ; and that means that he can save
" It is too late. It is too late ! " he cried with
such bitterness of soul that the men lying upon
their cots — brave young men, who bore in their
own persons the marks of their heroism — covered
their faces with their bedclothes, and wept like
But I urged that it was not too late, and com-
menced telling him of the thief on the cross ; but
he stopped me.
154 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
*' Oh, I know about the thief on the cross ; but,
lady, I am a thousand times worse than the thief
on the cross."
** If you were ten tJionsand times zvorse, Jesus
could save you ; for he can save to the uttermost''
These words gave hope, and he exclaimed,
" Pray for me ! "
I knelt by his cot-side ; and while he prayed and
I pleaded, ''the opening heaven around us shone,"
and the mighty power of saving grace came down
upon his souK
The tempest was stilled, and all was peace. I
looked up into his face to see, that in a moment —
as it were, in the twinkling of an eye — all the
lines of despair had been taken out of his face,
and that it was beaming with joy; a joy unspeak-
able, and full of glory.
If I had been an infidel up to that time, it
seems to me that I should have been convicted of
the truth of Christianity in that presence.
There were many witnesses to that scene ; and
it was as though the Master would show his
mighty saving power, for Jie healed that man soul
and body. My secretary was with me. Three
days from that time I found him on the shady
side of the house reading the Testament I had
given him the day before. The same look of peace
and joy was in his face, as he said, —
** Oh, I am so happy this morning ! I have a
furlotigh, and I am going home. How glad my
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 55
Christian mother will be to know that I have
"Young man," I said, "wherever you go, re-
member that you were snatched as a brand from
" I can never forget that. My disease and de-
spair were crushing me down. I must have died
if salvation had not come just then ; but when
you spoke the najne of Jesus, I knew you were a
Christian, and that you would help me if you
56 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
THE NEW YORK HERALD RE-
PORTER WHO LIVED FOR
TWO weeks after the surrender of Vicksburg,
I took passage on a steamer for the North.
Just before the boat left the wharf, a gentleman
whom I knew came on board in company with a
sick friend, whom he introduced as Mr. Brown,
" Correspondent of the Nezv York Herald^ I
was so weary with the scenes of war, with the
heat and hard labor which had been the common
lot of all workers during the siege, that I did not
want to talk to any one, much less to a ''Herald
reporter." He was sick, and was going home for
a season of rest, so he said. How deceptive ap-
pearances are. I set him down at once as a
drinking man, because his face was flushed and
his eyes red ; and I determined to be as unsocial
as possible. I did not see him again till evening,
when he came back into the ladies' cabin and
began social conversation.
I determined our talk should be religious, and
soon introduced the subject. He had remarked
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 57
that we were making headway, and would prob-
ably reach Helena by eight o'clock the next
morning. But he said, "of course there are
dangers on every side — sand-bars, snags, and
guerillas. So zue caii t tell wJiere we will be in the
** It matters little," I answered, "to those who
live for two worlds. We have the promise that
everything shall work together for good to those
who love God."
" I believe that, and am living for both worlds,"
he responded heartily. Then began one of the
most interesting conversations that it has ever
been my privilege to engage in. He was a most
deeply pious man, and through all the army life
had walked with God.
As the evening wore on, conversation turned
upon heaven, and the joys and privileges of the
redeemed. I remember how his face glowed with
holy enthusiasm as we talked of heaven. He
contrasted the noisy, horrid scenes of war with
the peace and sweet harmony of that world of
light and love. He said, "I am prepared for such
a blessed change of scenes at any moment."
The evening was now well-spent, and bidding him
good-night I retired to my stateroom. The next
morning when I stepped out into the ladies' cabin,
I found the captain of the boat waiting for me.
"Did you know the gentleman you were talking
with last eveninir .? "
158 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
"He is dead."
" Is it possible } "
" Yes, he is dead and cold ; he must have died
immediately after retiring. The gentleman who
occupied the lower berth noticed his arm hang-
ing down over the side of the berth when he went
to retire, and spoke to him, but he made no
answer; and this morning his arm was just in the
Yes, he was dead. He had gone from that talk
about heaven right into the grandeur and glory
of all its blessed mysteries. How thankful I was
that our conversation had been about Christian
duty and heaven !
My thoughts turned quickly to the widowed
mother and the sisters so well beloved ; for he
had spoken of them all most tenderly. We were
now nearing Helena, where he must be taken
ashore and buried. He had died of heart disease ;
and it was that, not drink, which made his face so
I wrote to his mother, who lived in Lancaster,
Pa., telling her all I could recall of our talk about
God, duty, heaven, and all the circumstances of
our brief acquaintance and his death.
One of his sisters answered my letter, for his
mother was quite prostrated by the shock the news
of his death had given her.
She said they were looking for his home-coming
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 59
every hour, when the sad message that he was
dead and buried reached them. But the sister's
faith rose triumphantly above it all.
" We all thank God for the loving providence
which cast our dear one in the pathway of a Chris-
tian who directed his thoughts and hopes heaven-
ward at the last. It is a great comfort to us that
his faith was so bright and clear, and that his last
thoughts on earth were about heaven."
l60 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
I HAVE THE BEST MOTHER IN
THE thunder of the cannon had ceased at
Vicksburg. The artillery and heavy guns
of two great armies were idle and silent ; and al-
though more than one hundred thousand men of
war, the conquerors and the conquered, were in
and about the fallen city, it was as quiet and
orderly as a country village. Only the day before,
July 4, 1863, I had stood with friends on Fort Hill
and witnessed the surrender ; but now, July 5,
duty and conscience led me into the hospitals
where the sick and wounded of the Confederate
army were quartered. The hospitals were in a
wretched condition because of lack of supplies,
and some of the sufferers had been lying through
all the long siege.
The battle was always on. Night and day the
thunder of the guns and the bursting of shells
made night hideous and the day a terror. Every
nerve had been for weeks on the rack — in the
battle, and yet unable to lift a hand for defence.
Almost every hospital had been riddled with shells.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. l6l
and any moment the end might come to any one
of them. But now all was quiet. As I passed
through the various hospitals distributing supplies,
I noticed a boy looking wistfully toward me. I
went directly to him. As I took his hand in my
own, and looked into his fair frank face, I felt that
any mother might be proud of such a boy.
''Have you a mother?" I asked. Instantly his
great brown eyes filled with tears, as he answered,
"Yes, madam, I have the best mother in the
His answer pleased me greatly, there was so
much of heart and earnestness in it.
" Where does your mother live } "
He mentioned the name of the village near Mo-
"Are you sure she is living there now } "
"Yes, she owns a place in the country near the
village. There is nowhere else for her to live."
" Would you like to have me write a letter to
her about you .'* "
" You couldn't do it — it wouldn't get through
" Yes, I can send it. I often send letters. I
send them through the commanding general when
a flag of truce passes."
" Oh, if you can, do have pity on my poor
mother ! She is such a good mother. She said
to me when I was leaving her : * Now, my child,
do the best you can. Whatever may happen, be
1 62 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
good and true. Don't swear or drink or forget
your mother. Remember your mother is praying
for you, and God may have compassion on us and
bring you back to me again.' Oh, if you could
only let her know that I'm alive, and that I've
been good and true, I should be so glad," and at
this last outburst the tears ran down over his face.
I took the directions, and consulted the physi-
cian as to his condition ; and that night, before I
slept in my new quarters, in a house that had been
assigned me in Vicksburg, I wrote to the mother
about as follows : —
"Dear Madam, — I found your son in Vicksburg [giv-
ing his name, company, and regiment]. He was severely
wounded in the battle outside of Vicksburg, and was car-
ried into the city.
His condition is now hopeful. The surgeons tell me he
will recover. He desires me to tell you that he has been
good and true, and has never violated your injunctions.
Though we may differ on the great questions that have
led to this terrible war, I feel it to be my duty as a mother
and a Christian to let you know about your son, and that he
He will be moved to a Northern hospital ; but you can
reach him with home news by writing to my office, Sanitary
Commission, St. Louis, Mo. I will arrange with him to
notify me each time he changes hospitals. You must send
your letter unsealed. Write briefly. Say nothing about the
war or condition of affairs in the South or North, and I think
you will reach me."
The next day I drove over to General Grant's
headquarters with that and some other letters,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 63
and gave them to him as I had often done be-
fore, to send through the lines. In a very short
time I had an answer from the mother. This was
her reply : —
" Dear Lady, — My eyes are full of tears of joy as I write.
Your letter made a rift in the black clouds of sorrow that
have hung over us for weeks. It was like a beam of heav-
enly glory from the Throne. At first it seemed too good to
believe ; but the name and company and regiment are all
right, and it must be so. Your letter found us all dressed in
black. I thought I had reliable news that my boy was killed
outside of Vicksburg, and I did not hope even to find his
Now we are all dressed in white."
Then followed some family news, and she closed
with the following sentence : —
" Give my love to my dear boy, and tell him we are pray-
ing for him ; and be assured, dear lady, when we pray for
him, we will pray for you — that you may be kept safely
through all the dangers of this cruel war."
Frequent letters were sent by the mother, and I
kept track of the boy and answered them.
The last time I saw him was just before the
close of the war. He was well and strong, but
was a prisoner in Camp Douglass, near Chicago,
111. I hope he reached his home and mother
164 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
SEARCHING FOR THE DEAD.
A LADY from Philadelphia searched for days
over the wide battle-field of Shiloh for the
grave of her only child — a bright, beautiful,
Christian boy, only eighteen. A detail of men
was sent from the regiment to help search for the
grave. She was quartered on our Sanitary boat,
and I went with her. '' They are all buried side
by side — all we could find of our regiment," said
the sergeant who had charge of the squad of men
sent out to help us search. We scattered, keep-
ing in sight of each other, and in calling distance,
and searched thoroughly ; but it was not till the
second day that we found the grave.
The mother found it first of all. The name was
written with a pencil on a bit of board at the
head. She gave a call, and waved her handker-
chief, and then fell on her knees, with her arms
over the mound of earth above her boy. He was
all she had on earth ; for he was the only child of
his mother, and she was a widow. As we gathered
about the grave, and saw her frail form convulsed
by the sobs of agony she tried to conceal, the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 165
roughest and bravest of the men turned away to
hide their tears. " He was a good soldier ; a
good Christian ; we had few like him in the regi-
ment," were the kindly comments that were made
by his companions in arms. As I lifted her away
from the grave, her eyes, though full of tears,
caught sight of a passion flower at the edge of the
She plucked it and took it away as a keepsake,
saying, '' God is good to give me this token of
his own love and passion." The body was to be
taken up and placed in the burial-case she had
brought for the purpose. They did not wish her
to see it. Officers came and tried to dissuade her.
No, she must see him.
" No matter how mangled, I shall know him ;
and I must know that it is my son."
And she had her way. He was brought up ;
and when the blanket which was his only coffin
was unrolled, there he was as natural as life.
She clipped a few locks from his wealth of
brown hair, and kneeling by her dead, thanked
God that he had given her back the body of her
son, and for the hope that animated her that they
should meet again in heaven. If by any possi-
bility these lines should fall under the eyes of
that lady, whose name I have forgotten, she will
recognize the story, and I am sure she will be
glad to renew the acquaintance with the strange
lady who helped her find her boy's grave.
1 66 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
VERY TIMELY ARREST.
WHEN the lines of battle were near Corinth,
Miss., hearing of a hospital at some little
distance from the town, I determined to visit it,
taking supplies and delicacies with me. Two
ladies accompanied me. The driver of the ambu-
lance, who assumed to know all about the roads,
and just where to find that hospital, and who had a
splendid team of horses, drove us off in good style.
After we had been en route for some time, going
at a rapid pace, I questioned the driver, " Are you
sure you are on the right road ; it seems to me we
have come a iong way .'* "
" Oh, yes ; I know the road very well."
" I wonder what those men are running after,"
remarked one of the ladies of the company.
It did really seem that men were springing up
out of the ground. They were running after us
and waving their hands ; but the steady, heavy
tramp of the feet of our horses drowned their
voices ; and we failed to hear the oft-repeated com-
mand, ''Halt ! " '' Halt ! " which came from every
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 67
"Just look back ! There are a lot of men on
horseback coming at full speed," said one of the
It was only a moment before the foremost rider
was near us, and he thundered out in tones I shall
never forget, " Halt ! "
Our driver reined in his horses. " Turn your
ambulance back as quickly as you can, you fool !
You are driving right into the enemy's camp."
The driver whipped up his horses and retreated
at a gallop, but not until the Confederate sharp-
shooters had begun to send their bullets flying
after the men who had come to our rescue. Some
of the missiles came dangerously near to the little
ambulance company. The cans and bundles which
had been placed upon the seats with so much care,
and held with our outstretched hands, now went
tumbling into a common heap on the floor, and
before the race was over two of us were down on
top of them. When we were at a safe distance
from the enemy, the horsemen riding near us, a
halt was called, and we gathered ourselves up and
tried to look respectable after such a rough and
A captain rode round in front, and in a tone
which made the cold shivers creep along the spinal
column, demanded, " Who is in charge of this
ambulance } "
*' I am," I answered with all the self-composure
I could command at that instant.
1 68 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
" And so you were trying to reach the lines of
the enemy with supplies and this good team and a
Union soldier ? "
" No, sir. I am as loyal as any man who wears
shoulder-straps, and I can prove it. I was trying
to reach a hospital with these supplies [naming
the hospital]. The driver thought he knew the
way, but it seems he did not."
"That is not a likely story. That hospital is
not in that direction at all ; and I overtook you
near the enemy's camp, more than a mile beyond
where we allow any one to go. Why did you run
past our pickets who demanded you to halt ? "
'' I did not see any pickets, or hear any one call
* Halt ! ' until you came up."
"You are all under arrest ! Driver, you will
drive to the headquarters of the commanding
At these words my two lady friends turned very
pale ; but I laughed, as I was acquainted with the
commanding general. Remembering my pass from
the Secretary of War, and other important official
papers in my possession, I said to the captain who
rode alongside of the ambulance, " Would it
make any change in your course if I should show
you passes from high officials ? I have no objec-
tion to going to headquarters, but it is a loss of
" No, madam ! You are all under arrest. The
officers don't give passes, or send good teams and
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 69
Union soldiers, to take people into the rebel
It was of no use to say anything more, for
the officer had told the truth. In due time we
reached headquarters and were ordered out. I
led the procession, clambering out over our scat-
tered supplies as best I could. The captain
marched in beside me. The captain gave the
military salute, and was about to report that he
had brought in these people, captured while try-
ing to run the Union lines ; but there were several
officers there who knew me, who came forward to
shake hands, and the general among them, and
he was silenced.
'* Is there anything I can do for you to-day,
madam } " the general inquired in his most gra-
" Yes, General, there is. I and this forlorn little
company whom I have led, and misled, are under
arrest for a most serious crime. We were on the
enemy's ground, and were pushing for the enemy's
camp at full speed, when this gallant officer rode
down in the face of the enemy and rescued us. I
want to thank him before you all."
Of course further explanation was made, and we
were all released. The ambulance driver and my-
self were admonished '' to make certain thereafter
that we were on the right road." I shook hands
with the captain and thanked him, and the officers
present congratulated him, and we all left head-
quarters in high spirits.
170 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
SAVING THE LIFE OF YOUNG PIKE,
Brother of Mrs. Sue Pike Sanders, Past National
President, W. R. C.
THE atmosphere was thick with dust, and sti-
fling with the sulphurous smoke that came
in clouds from the near battle-field, as I drove
around Vicksburg. The air was as hot as a fur-
nace, under the pitiless rays of a June sun, and
vibrated with the roar and thunder of heavy artil-
lery and bursting shells, till every nerve was on
It was unusually late, and I was weary and
But as I was on my way to my quarters, I
noticed a soldier lying in a field not far from the
main travelled road. There was something in the
appearance of the man that attracted my attention,
and I stopped my carriage and went to him.
At first I thought he was dead ; but a closer
examination convinced me that he was alive.
The shades of night were gathering around us,
and the point where he lay was one of unusual
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 171
I hurried back to my carriage, and brought
water and restoratives, and began an earnest effort
to resuscitate him.
It was not long till he opened his great brown
eyes in a questioning way.
"Poor boy!" I said in pitying tones; but he
closed his eyes as though he had not fully under-
After a little he looked up into my face, and
said in a whisper, —
"They left me here to die."
" Oh, but you will be taken care of now, and
you'll get well. Don't think about dying — just
think how soon you will be well again."
He was a young soldier, not much if any over
sixteen or eighteen years old. He was lying there,
with all his heavy army clothing on, in a most
There was a hospital not very far away ; and
leaving George, my driver, to minister to him, I
went up to the hospital and called for the surgeon
"There is a soldier lying down here near the
road who is nearly dead. Will you not have him
brought up, and see what you can do for him .-* "
" Why, isn't he dead yet ? " exclaimed an at-
I then learned that the regiment to which the
young soldier belonged had been ordered out to
172 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
the Big Black River, and that all the sick in their
regimental hospital had been brought with them
to that point — there unloaded and reported to
the hospital authorities. The attendants had
come down and taken all but this one man, and
had left him there to die alone. I was righteously
indignant, and I denounced the whole proceeding
as inJiuniaii and scandalous.
The surgeon and attendants were alarmed.
*' Such carelessness on the part of the surgeon,
and brutality on the part of men charged with the
care of the sick and wounded, were disgraceful ! "
It was not many minutes till the surgeon and
attendants with a stretcher were at his side.
Everything that could possibly be done for any
one was done for him.
The surgeons had hard work to save him, how-
If I had passed him by unnoticed, they all
agreed that he would have been dead by the next
Day after day as I drove about the lines I min-
istered to him till he was out of danger.
Years passed before I had the privilege of see-
ing him again. Then he was a great stalwart
man, and bore the title of Hon. E. M. Pike, mem-
ber of the Senate of Illinois.
He is now living at Chenoa, 111., has a lovely
wife and two children, a son and daughter full-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 73
grown. He has a large manufacturing establish-
ment there, and is beloved and honored by all
who know him.
He has given good proof that he was well
174 ^ WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A VISIT FROM GENERAL GRANT
AND GENERAL McPHERSON.
A FEW days after the surrender of Vicksburg,
I called at General Grant's headquarters on
Generals McPherson and Rawlins were the only
ofificials present with him. I was received most
cordially, and inquiries were made by General
Grant at once, as to whether the house he had
assigned to me was comfortable and satisfactory.
I assured him that it was, and spoke with great
enthusiasm of the colored servants left in charge
of the property by the owners, who had fled from
Vicksburg before the siege. I was especially en-
thusiastic about the cook,
'' Why don't you invite us up to test her cook-
ery } " questioned General McPherson. I hardly
knew what to say, as I had made it a rule to shun
all appearances of social life.
" Oh, you would not come ; you are all too busy
paroling prisoners," I answered.
*' Oh, yes ! we would certainly come if you
should invite us. Is not that so, General Grant } "
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1/5
*' I shall certainly come if invited," was General
" Then I most cordially invite you."
" When shall we come ? " questioned General
"To-morrow, if that will suit you."
That being satisfactory, they agreed to come
the next day at one o'clock. General Rawlins
being included in the invitation, which he laugh-
ingly said, " We have given ourselves."
When I returned to my quarters that noon, and
announced that General Grant and two other gen-
erals were to dine with me the next day, there
was great consternation and excitement. I had
tented with Mrs. General Stone during the siege,
and she had come into Vicksburg and occupied
the house with me. She was dismayed at the
news. She declared that there was not one de-
cent tablecloth on the premises, that there were
no two napkins alike, or two dishes that matched.
*'The fact is," she said, *' everything in this house
mismatches. And how are you going to get them
into the dining-room with all the steps torn away .''
Are they to walk up that inclined plane on the
boards t "
I told her I did not know of any other way ;
but as we had to perform that feat three times a
day, I had no doubt they could get up from the
hall to the dining-room once. Aunt Dinah, the
cook, who was at the head of the colored mem-
bers of the household, was enthusiastic.
1/6 A IVOMAJV'S REMINISCENCES
*' I tell you, honey, I'll mak ebery cling shine,
an' I'll hab de tablecloth so slick a gnat's heel
would fly up on it."
All the colored people were jubilant. It would
be impossible to describe their antics. The little
children danced a jubilee ; jumping up and down,
keeping up a chorus : '' Ginnel Grant's a-cum-
men ! Ginnel Grant's a-cummen ! Ginnel Grant's
de bio:est o^innel of dem all ! "
It was not an hour till every colored man,
woman, and child in that part of the town knew
that at a certain hour the next day General Grant
was to be at that house. The colored men
searched every sutler's shop for supplies, and
Aunt Dinah did her best in the cooking line.
The next morning I went out among the hospitals
as usual, but came home before noon, so as to be
there when my guests arrived. I found all the
neighboring fences about the grounds lined with
Mrs. Stone said to me as soon as I came in, —
" Now, you must not laugh or object, but Aunt
Dinah has sent and got two professional waiters ;
they are here now, dressed in broadcloth, with
swallow-tailed coats and white vests and white
Of course I did laugh, and she laughed quite
as heartily as myself, at the incongruity of the ar-
rangement. Here, in one of the deserted houses
of Vicksburg, that a shell had crashed through,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. lyy
making it almost impossible to get into the dining-
room, with nothing in the way of table-outfit but
the most ordinary camping utensils, we had two
professional waiters, rigged out in a style that
could hardly be matched at a state dinner at the
presidential mansion, we were to receive great
generals. It was indeed laughable. Aunt Dinah
felt she ought to explain the matter to me.
" Honey, I want to 'splain 'bout dese 'fessional
watahs. Our common niggahs would never do to
wait on fine gentlemen. You see, dey's awkard
an' hain't got no good close. So I just hir'd dese
fashionable watahs case I wanted to have the
thing done up right."
Of course I made no objections. At the ap-
pointed hour. General Grant, dressed in military
uniform, riding his little black horse that had car-
ried him so often around the fiery lines of Vicks-
burg during the siege, and General McPherson,
dressed in elegant military fashion, tall, stately,
commanding, and splendidly mounted, rode up in
front of our house.
General Stone, who had commanded the extreme
right during the siege, and who had come up from
his military camp to dine with us that day, went
out and hitched their horses, as there were no
orderlies with them.
General Rawlins, who was prevented at the
last moment from coming, sent his regrets. Black
faces were peeping out from the near houses, and
178 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
the fences were black with colored people. It
was perhaps the one chance of their lives to see
their deliverer, the great captain who had opened
the prison-house of Vicksburg, and given liberty
to all the people.
Everything passed off very pleasantly. When
dinner was announced, taking the arm of General
Grant, I led the way to the dining-room. Mrs.
General Stone took the arm of General McPher-
son, General Stone having already gone into the
dining-room to help us up. The stairs j^eing torn
away, and the ascent being made on two planks
that stood at an angle of forty-five degrees, he
reached down his hands and helped us up. When
the two great commanders reached the dining-
room, they stood for some time by the broken
walls and stairs, and discussed shells as destruc-
tive missiles, and speculated as to which battery
sent that shell crashing through the house. They
finally decided that it came from one of Admiral
The dinner followed, and was most thoroughly
enjoyed. All the praise I had given our cook
she justified in that grandest effort of her life.
Aunt Dinah held the door a little ajar so that
she could see and hear all that was going on in
the dining-room. She said to me afterwards, with
a satisfied chuckle, " Oh ! Laws a massa, didn't
dey praise my cooken ! I never felt so big in my
life. Seems to me I'se one of the biggest cooks
in the world."
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 79
The professional waiters were skilled and grace-
ful, even though a napkin over a tin platter was
used as a tray.
Aunt Dinah said very confidentially afterwards
to me, —
" You see, honey, 'twould neber hab done to
hab our niggahs done it. T'ey'd been most scar't
to death, and sure to spill something. It won't do
to hab common niggahs waten on high an' mighty
folks like big ginnels."
The guests enjoyed the dinner and the after
visit. The siege ; the surrender ; the terms of
parole ; the condition of the people who had been
shut up in the city during the siege ; their life in
the caves ; the condition of the hospitals ; and
^^ what nextf were freely discussed in that frank
and easy way that characterized General Grant
when he was surrounded by a group of friends he
When the two great generals took their leave,
every colored person in the neighborhood knew
that the smaller man was General Grant, and they
were watching to get another glimpse of him.
Both generals thanked us for inviting them, and
assured us that it was the most restful, homelike
visit they had enjoyed since the war began.
It was my privilege to dine with them on sev-
eral occasions after that, and to dine with General
Grant at the White House during his presidential
terms ; but there was not the enthusiasm and nov-
l80 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
elty on those occasions that clustered around the
dinner and visit in the shell-wrecked house after
the fall of Vicksburg.
General and Mrs. Stone live at their old home
in Mount Pleasant, Iowa ; but the two great cap-
tains of the Union hosts are gone — McPherson
falling in the midst of the struggle on the bloody
field of strife near Atlanta, Ga., and Grant, after
passing through untold perils, passing peacefully
away, and even in death immortalizing Mount
OF THE CIVIL WAR. l8l
AS we were on our way to the brick church
hospital, at Helena, Ark., a very large man,
with his hair curled and hanging over his shoul-
ders, passed us and looked back, my secretary
and myself both imagined, in an impudent way.
When we reached the hospital we found him
there. He put himself in our way as though he
wished to speak with us, but we both avoided
him. At last he came up and said to me,
** Madam, I want to speak with you ; there is a
man over here that the doctor thinks will die.
I thought maybe you'd come over and pray with
him. I've been trying to lead him to trust the
Lord Jesus, but he don't seem to find the way."
How that great stalwart fellow was transfigured
before us from a rowdy to a saint. And as we
went about the hospital everybody said, '* If it
wasn't for Liberty Hicks I don't know what we
would do." It was not long till a great cake of
ice was floating about in the barrel of tepid water
that stood near the pulpit, and lemons from our
supply were in many a fever-parched hand. We
1 82 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
found out afterwards that Liberty Hicks was an
Illinois soldier, and though big, coarse, and strong
of body, he was as tender in his ministrations as
a woman, and as faithful as tender. And although
it was not our privilege to ever meet him again,
our good wishes have ever followed him.
Liberty Hicks was a grand hospital worker.
I heard of his labors afterwards, for he accom-
panied the sick up the river. But like many
others he overworked, and I learn from his daugh-
ter who lives near him in Illinois that he is per-
manently disabled. It must, however, be a great
consolation to him now, in his old age, to know
that by his faithful services he saved many pre-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 83
TRADING TOBACCO FOR COFFEE.
GOVERNOR SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD
and some of the state officials of Iowa
came down to visit the army during the siege
of Vicksburg. I was invited to go with the dis-
tinguished visitors on a tour of inspection, as
was also Mrs. General Stone.
Among the points of danger visited was the
fortifications on the *' Extreme Right," which was
up above Vicksburg and down to the water's edge.
The fortifications were so near together that the
men could talk back and forth.
Our boys had a printing-press and type, and
there were men who could write sensational news
of the success of the Union army to order.
They would buy a St. Louis paper, and then
get out an '^ Extra."
" Surrender of Lee — Capture of Jeff. Davis —
The particulars of all these events would be
given in the most plausible and convincing
184 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A Stone was tied to the papers, and some wag
would call out, —
" Say, Rebs, do you want the latest news ?
Newspapers are just in from St. Louis. The war
" Yes, throw them over;" and over they would
But the Confederates would not believe a word
unless it was favorable to their cause, and they
laughed loud and long over the " lies of the
Yanks." But they kept it up on the principle
that "everything is fair in war."
" Put up your head above the embankment, and
you will soon see whether the war is over or not,"
the soldiers on the other side would say. On
that day, while we stood there, some of the Iowa
officials put their hats on their canes, and had
them perforated by bullets.
A voice came over the ramparts, *' Say, Yanks,
do you want some tobacker } "
" Will you trade coffee for tobacker .? "
" Yes ; throw it over, and we will throw over
enough coffee to pay for it."
We waited in expectation a little while, then a
warning came, —
" Look out there, Yanks! "
All stepped back out of danger. A cloth that
had once been white, but had evidently been in
the trenches, came over filled with a lot of the
most abominable tobacco I had ever seen.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 85
After due inspection, the cloth was shaken a
few times and filled with coffee, and a warning
cry given, —
" Look out, Rebs ! " and over the coffee went.
"All right; thanks;" and the firing was re-
There was, I learned afterwards, trading all
along the lines.
1 86 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
THE HOSPITALS OF VICKSBURG AT
THE TIME OF THE SURRENDER.
EARLY on the morning of the 5th of July,
the roadways being opened, I drove into
Vicksburg. On every side the evidences of the
severe struggle were visible. The concentrated
fire of shot and shell had riddled nearly every
The solid shot had done much less damage than
the shells, which, after striking, usually exploded.
The solid cannon-balls cut clean round holes in
the solid brick walls, with less damage to the
walls in most cases than could have been done by
a mason's chisel. But the murderous shot and
shell had come from every direction, and scattered
the household goods and the inmates, killing
many citizens and soldiers, and wounding many
more. The whole city was an immense hospital.
And it is but kindly and fair to say, just here,
that no city was ever more heroically defended ;
and that the gallant force inside of Vicksburg did
not yield until starvation stared them in the face.
There was nothing to eat in the city. The sol-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 8/
diers had been on short rations for a long time ;
the citizens were without food. Cattle, horses,
mules, dogs, cats, rats, and mice had been de-
voured. The sick and wounded in the hospitals
had been sustained on mule soup for a long while,
and the supply of mules was about exhausted.
There was no living creature in the shape of dogs
and cats and rats to be seen in the streets or
about the houses — all had been eaten for food.
The United States government issued rations
to the starving people at once. I visited the hos-
pitals immediately. I had large supplies of
hospital stores, which were sent to me by Mr.
Yeateman of St. Louis, President of the Western
Sanitary Commission, who was a Southern gentle-
man, and who, though loyal to the Stars and
Stripes, yet felt deep sympathy for the Southern-
ers in their terrible sufferings ; and also from
Louisville and elsewhere, for I, too, was linked by
ties of blood to the people of the South, and
the history of Kentucky was interlinked with the
history of my ancestors.
These immense supplies were sent me, in antici-
pation of the surrender, for the Confederate Hos-
pital of Vicksburg. Some of the hospitals were
in a most wretched condition ; the men being
without beds or pillows, or any other comforts for
the sick. This was especially true of what were
called the "field hospitals ;" the hospitals imme-
diately in the rear of the fighting force, into which
1 88 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
the wounded were carried before being transported
to the permanent hospitals.
In these hospitals I found men lying on the
floor with their knapsacks under their heads, swel-
tering in their heavy army clothing. We found
afterwards that their clothing was full of vermin.
One poor man who looked very ill, and seemed to
be suffering much, lay on the floor of one of the
first hospitals I visited. I stopped to speak with
him, coming close beside him. A Confederate
surgeon sprang forward, and, taking me by the arm,
said, " Please, lady, don't go so near, you are in
danger of getting vermin on you." I had the sat-
isfaction within the next twenty-four hours of see-
ing that hospital thoroughly cleansed, and every
soldier lying clean and comfortable in a cot-bed
between clean sheets, and his head resting on a
soft white pillow ; while a bonfire just in the rear
of the building was consuming all the old clothing
and former contents of the hospital. The Confed-
erate surgeons were retained in the hospitals where
the Union army found them, and many of them
were faithful, gentlemanly men. I remember very
kindly the medical director, or chief surgeon, of
Pemberton's army, although I have forgotten his
name. He seemed very anxious to improve the
condition of the hospitals, and was very grateful for
help and supplies. The wounded were lying on the
floor because there were no beds for them ; they
were starving — dying for lack of proper nourish-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 89
ment because there was little or no food for them,
and so the hospitals were necessarily in a wretched
The hospitals in the centre of the city were in
better condition. There were many incidents
connected with my visits to these hospitals which
I should be glad to record, but space will not allow.
1 9© A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A VISIT TO CAPTAIN WALKE'S
AMONG the gallant Union officers who distin-
guished themselves for wisdom and bravery
was Captain Walke, commander of the Carondclet.
I knew him personally as a benevolent Christian
gentleman. No one who knew him doubted his
profession of faith in the Divine Redeemer.
While his gunboat was lying at Cairo, just
before the battle of Fort Donelson, he came into
the church one Sabbath morning and quietly took
a seat. The minister who was expected disap-
pointed the audience.
As soon as that was made known, Captain
Walke arose and went into the pulpit, opened
the Bible, and saying, " Let us worship God," read
the One Hundred and Third Psalm. Closing the
book, he talked most impressively of our duty to
God and to man, and of the boundless, measure-
less love of Christ, and, offering an earnest prayer,
dismissed the congregation with the long-metre
The people, who had been held with almost
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 191
breathless interest by the eloquent, forceful words
of the stranger, began to ask, '' Who is he ? "
And great was their surprise when they learned
that the man who filled the pulpit that day was
Captain Walke, commander of the Carondelet, an
iron-clad that with bristling cannon was lying at
anchor near the town.
It was at Cairo that I first met Captain Walke.
As he was often at the chief ports where the army
was protected by gunboats, I had the privilege of
meeting him occasionally.
Two days before the running of the blockade at
Vicksburg, a little company of us went over from
the Sanitary boat to bid Captain Walke godspeed
He had just completed the task of pouring two
barrels of coal-oil over his gunboat, and white-
washing the lower deck, where the guns were to
be loaded by the light of the whitewash.
The oil was to prevent solid shot from adher-
ing ; striking a smooth oiled surface they would
be more likely to fly off on a tangent, he ex-
plained by way of apology, as the gangway was
reached, and the dresses of the ladies were be-
smeared with coal-oil. The sides of the Ca-
rondelet were more than three feet thick, and
consisted of alternate layers of wood and iron.
In answer to the question, —
" Is not the eve of a battle a season of great
anxiety .? " he said, —
192 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
" No ; the time of anxiety with me is when I
am putting the ship in order. When I have done
all that I can do, then I can serenely trust in
In the course of the conversation, he said that
the most beautiful sight he had ever seen was the
bursting of shells against the side of his ship,
sending out volumes of fire, and scintillations of
light like a cloud of glory.
Our godspeeds and good wishes were earnest
and heartfelt. We all felt that it might be a last
He went through the fiery channel in safety,
but I never saw his face again.
His death occurred not a great while thereafter.
A grand, true Christian gentleman, and a brave
soldier, was Captain Walke.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. I93
HOSPITAL ABUSES— PUTTING LOG-
WOOD IN THE COFFEE.
THERE was a very large hospital at Madison,
Ind., which was very much crowded in 1864-
1865 with the sick and wounded. I established a
special-diet kitchen there for the preparation of
food for the very sick and the severely wounded,
and placed one of my lady helpers in charge. She
had scarcely assumed the supervision of the cook-
ery till she began complaining of the quality of
the food, especially of the coffee. As she put it :
** There is nothing in this hospital fit for a well
man to eat, much less these sick and wounded
and dying men."
I was in Washington at the time ; but I tele-
graphed to Miss Louisa Vance, one of the shrewd-
est and most careful workers of the Christian
Commission, to report at the hospital at Madison,
Ind., and await instructions. I met her there
with carefully written instructions : "■ Go on with
the work, and don't complain, but watch. There
is something wrong in that hospital ; find out what
it is. The government furnishes good supplies
194 ^ WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
and good coffee ; find out what becomes of them,
but don't, for the life of these men, let the sur-
geon and hospital steward know that they are
suspected. Make frequent errands to the room
of the commissary," etc. She was not long in
finding out as to the cheating and adulteration.
The first clew was obtained because of the rule in
that hospital, that a barrel be placed beside the
kitchen door, and all the coffee-grounds emptied
into it. *' Boys," she said to some of the men
who did the cooking, '* why do you put the coffee-
grounds there ? They have been used ; they are
"It's the surgeon's orders."
''He has them hauled away and emptied, I
suppose .? "
" No ; he has them dried on the commissary
"Gives them to poor people, I suppose V
"I don't know," answered one; but there was a
general laugh among the men in the kitchen.
She made an excuse to go to the commissary-
room ; and there, sure enough, on the floor, was a
large pile of old coffee-grounds. The men em-
ployed there were busy stirring and turning it
over to hasten the drying process. She asked for
something in a careless way, and then said as she
was leaving, —
" You have a good lot of coffee, boys. What
in the world are you going to do with so much
OF THE CIVIL WAR, 1 95
"The surgeon in charge is going to sell it, I
guess ; " and then they all laughed. She felt sure
from their manner that these men knew all the se-
crets of that commissary department, and it must
be her business to get it from them. But I was
urging her to be careful ; for if false charges were
brought against the surgeon in charge of a large
hospital, it would injure the diet-kitchen service
all along the line. We were in daily correspond-
ence. She had tested the coffee every way she
could think of, but could not decide as to how it
was adulterated. She had a new white-pine sink
put in the kitchen, and poured out some coffee on
that. It stained the boards logwood color. She
knew now at least one article of adulteration.
She looked the men of the commissary well
over, and picked out one, an innocent young
fellow, that she thought she might surprise
into a confession. Waiting her chance, when
no one was near, she faced him with the ter-
rible question : —
" Why do you men in the commissary-room put
logwood and every other vile stuff in the coffee
for our poor sick and wounded men to drink.-*
Have you no conscience t Do you want to kill
The poor boy turned pale, and staggered back
as though he would fall, as he stammered, —
" We have to do it ; it's the surgeon's orders.
Indeed, Miss Vance, we can't help it ; " and he
196 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
dashed away as fast as he could go, to tell the
" O boys ! Miss Vance knows all about the
cheating here, and the logwood and everything in
As they wanted to set themselves right with
Miss Vance, the others, as soon as they could,
went to her to apologize, and to assure her that it
was orders. She assumed not to believe that a
surgeon would give such orders, and said she
could not believe till she saw the orders. They
brought them, and also the surgeon's instructions
for mixing, and various other devices for cheating.
"Now, boys, don't say a word about this till I
can see what I can do."
Of course I got all these facts as quick as
the mail could bring them. I wrote her "to be
careful, to make copies of all the papers and
records of the false entries in the books, and take
these men one by one to a justice of the peace
or notary public, and have them swear to every-
thing;" for, if the surgeon should suspect what
she was doing, he would at once relieve them, and
order them to join their regiments, and she would
be left to stand alone. I started for Louisville,
Ky., the headquarters of Assistant Surgeon-Gen-
eral R. C. Wood, at once, and requested Miss
Vance to send to me there all the papers in the
case, which she did.
As I read over the villanous record of cheatery,
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 97
and the disgusting compounds he had put into
the old coffee-grounds for the poor sick and
wounded men to drink, my soul was hot within
me with righteous indignation. When I went
into the office of General Wood the next morning
I was in a mood for strong talk. He gave me his
usual cordial greeting.
" General Wood, if you please, I would like to
see you alone," I said.
He looked surprised, as I had never made such
a request before.
*' Certainly," he said, and nodded to the two or
three clerks in the room to withdraw. As soon
as the door was closed behind them I began : —
*' I came to report Dr. R , of the Madison
" Dr. R } Why, he is one of my best
surgeons ! What has he done } "
" You may think he is one of your best sur-
geons, but my opinion of him is that he ought to
be hung higher than Haman.''
The general looked greatly surprised, as he
had never heard me use any such emphatic terms
about any one before. *' Please, madam, explain,"
" He is cheating and starving the soldiers, and
selling their good coffee, and giving them a little
coffee mixed with logwood and other vile adultera-
" Impossible ! That is entirely impossible."
198 A IVOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
"Nevertheless, it is true ; and he is cheating
you in making up his hospital returns. I have
the proof here in my hands."
He turned pale. " Can such a thing be pos-
sible } " he gasped.
*' It is possible," I said. "See for yourself;"
and I handed him the true returns, with the affi-
He brought out the official returns which had
been sent by the surgeon, and we compared
" He's a villain, a heartless villain," the general
would mutter at each new exhibition of the sur-
When we had gone through with the papers, he
said in a most emphatic way, —
" I will punish that man to the full extent of
" No, general : he will elude you ; he will find
some way to escape. If dealt with by military
law he will escape ; but I have a plan that will
" What is your plan ? "
"To go to Governor Morton of Indiana, and
lay the facts and these papers before him, and put
the whole case in his hands. The hospital is in
his State, and I don't think he can get out of the
clutches of Governor Morton." My words were
like the shock of an electric battery. He sprang
to his feet, and walked the floor in a most excited
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1 99
State of mind. At last he calmed himself enough
to speak, and facing me, he said, —
*' Madam, do you wish to kill me ? Do you wish
to kill me ? Do you wish to stab me to the
heart ? "
" Certainly not. I have the highest respect for
you. I believe you are innocent in this matter ;
but I do not want that villain to escape."
** He shall not escaped
" What will you do } "
" I will send up Inspector Allen right away."
" No ; that won't do. Inspector Allen has been
going up month after month, and has not seen a
thing wrong. No ; I am sorry to say it, but I
do not believe you can bring this man to justice.
Governor Morton is my only chance to secure
I shall never forget with what majesty he stood
before me. He looked like a patriarch, — tall,
straight, commanding, with his crown of gray
hair, his fair and kindly face. A perfect Christian
gentleman of the old school, too honest and true
himself to suspect others as frauds.
"Mrs. Wittenmyer," he said, *'you could not
possibly do me a greater injury ; such a thing
would likely lead to my removal. You certainly
do not desire that. Have I not co-operated with
you in all your great plans, removing from one
hospital to another surgeons at your suggestion }
Have I not placed steamers and trains to carry
200 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
your goods, and extended to you the hearty co-
operation and aid of this office? Why should you
wish to injure me ? "
''I do not wish to injure you. I only want to
bring this rogue to justice. You have done all
that any one could do for me, and the influence of
your high office has helped me all along the lines.
I shall ever hold you in grateful remembrance for
your kindness and co-operation ; but I cannot stand
by and see our sick and wounded men treated in
this way, and not do my utmost to bring such a
rascal to justice."
*' He shall be brought to justice. I will make
this proposition to you : I will appoint a commis-
sion to investigate, bring charges against and
court-martial him, and you may select the com-
" But he will resign as soon as he knows they
are going to bring charges."
*' I will not accept his resignation."
And so this plan was agreed to ; as over the op-
position of the assistant surgeon-general, who had
been my ablest helper, I saw it would not do to
go, as I wished to do, to Governor Morton.
I selected Dr. Clendening, medical director of
that department, as the president of the court.
I knew him to be a true gentleman, of sterling
integrity, who would do his duty without fear or
favor. The others were among the best medical
men of the army.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 201
The last I heard of Dr. Clendening he was in
the regular army, and stationed at St. Louis. I
think he is still living, as are most of those who
are familiar with the facts here recorded. The
commission received the documents, went to
Madison, and verified all Miss Vance's statements,
and sat down together to formulate the charges.
But as soon as the committee came on the ground,
Surgeon R telegraphed his resignation to
Surgeon-General Barnes at Washington. It was
accepted by telegraph, and he was on a train far
away. The commission was greatly disappointed,
and General Wood was very much humiliated over
the affair. Shortly afterwards, returning to Wash-
ington, I spoke to the surgeon-general about the
case, and gave him my views about Dr. R 's
rascality. But the hospital was soon cleaned up ;
the old coffee-grounds and logwood were dumped
out upon the " common," and good food and plenty
of it was served to the men.
I was not known to Dr. R in the case ;
but Dr. Clendening and the other members of
the commission, and Miss Vance, will know how
the reform was brought about. I do not give the
full name of the surgeon, as he may have repented
in sackcloth and ashes for aught I know; but there
is little danger of my forgetting his name. Miss
Vance is now living in California.
202 A WOMAN ^S REMINISCENCES
REMINISCENCE OF GENERAL
ONE of the strongest evidences of General
Grant's nobility of character was his re-
spectful treatment of the men in the ranks. They
were all men, and were treated as men. He did
not toady to the officers, or bully the privates.
His attitude to all was respectful and considerate.
He was more approachable to the men in the
ranks than were many of his inferior officers.
An ambulance driver at City Point told me this
story : —
"The road was narrow, and I was allowing the
horses to jog on at a slow pace, when an officer
rode up and said, * Drive your ambulance to one
side, please, and allow my staff to pass.'
** I was paralyzed when I looked up and saw it
was General Grant who was talking to me so nice
and polite. I looked back and saw a lot of officers
coming, and you may be sure I got out of their
way as quick as I could. Most officers would have
sworn a blue streak because I was in the road, but
that isn't General Grant's way ; he is a mighty
6F THE CIVIL WAI^. 203
I had occasion to call at an officer's headquar-
ters to report that there were supplies at the land-
ing for his regiment. He was very much pleased
that I had taken the trouble to call on him per-
sonally, as he was from my own State. As we
sat in his tent talking socially, a private soldier
came to the tent door, made the military salute,
and was about to speak, when the colonel thun-
dered his words of command : —
"Begone; what business have you coming to
my headquarters } "
**The lieutenant sent me to " —
"Begone, I tell you."
The soldier turned away deeply humiliated, and
no doubt indignant. I, as indignant as the soldier,
arose, and without ceremony left the tent. I have
never thought of that officer since, that I did not
want to go back to that lost opportunity, and tell
him how mean and ignoble he was.
204 ^ WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
FRED D. GRANT — THE BRAVE
ORDERLY AT VICKSBURG.
NEARLY every day during the siege of Vicks-
burg, General Grant rode around the fiery
line of the besieged city on his little black horse ;
and his son Fred, about thirteen years old, who
acted as his orderly, followed about fifty yards in
It was a wild ride over the rough, roadless fields
and bluffs in the rear of our batteries, where the
enemy's guns were ploughing the ground here
and there, over which they were riding.
Almost every day, as I drove about the lines,
at some point or other I would see General Grant
and his brave little orderly riding at full speed in
the face of the long lines of the enemy's batteries,
and within range of their murderous fire. But
most of all to be feared was the surer fire of the
They were never within speaking distance, be-
ing much nearer the batteries than was the road-
way along which I drove.
There was great anxiety for General Grant
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 205
during the siege. Personally he was beloved by
officers and men, but there were deeper reasons.
His life was so important to the Union cause, that
his death would have been the greatest calamity
that the army could have suffered. Officers and
civilians warned and entreated him, but as far as
I could see he made no change in his course.
Fred Grant shared his father's dangers ; and
although he was one of the nicest boys I ever saw,
few knew his real merits and bravery. Like his
distinguished father, he was free from bombast,
and was quiet and reserved, so his heroic services
during the siege were not paraded before the
public, as the deeds of many who did not show
half the courage he did.
We did not meet very often ; but when we did,
I always had some kindly words and an approving
smile for him. It was fortunate that his devoted
mother was not there at that time to see his dan-
ger as he went out under the guns daily.
Her anxiety would have been unbearable, as
she was a most devoted wife and mother, and the
dangers were appalling.
Fred D. Grant ought in some marked way to
receive public honor for his wonderful heroism at
206 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
THE SAD FATE OF JENNIE WADE.
ONE of the many sad incidents of the battle of
Gettysburg was the tragic death of Jennie
Wade. The family remained in their house, as
they could not well leave a married daughter lying
on her bed with a new-born infant by her side.
Jennie and her mother remained with her, as there
seemed to be no way of removing Mrs. McClelland
and her baby to a place of safety when the coming
of the two armies disturbed the quiet of the quaint
old Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Amid the
clash of arms, when the boom of cannon shook
the rock-rimmed hills and echoed among the
mountains, and the shock of battle sent a throb
of agony along the lines of two armies, they were
there in the midst of it all. Mrs. McClelland lay
there helpless amid its thunders, while Jennie
made bread for the soldiers who crawled to the
door begging for something to eat.
A shell came crashing through the house, and
cut off one of the posts of the bedstead on which
Mrs. McClelland and her infant were lying, but
neither was injured.
OF THE CIVIL WAR, 20/
The mother and sister took a big rocking-chair
down into the cellar, and carried her down and
placed her in it with her baby, and Jennie went
on making bread for the famishing soldiers.
Another shell came screaming into the house ;
and Jennie, with her hands just out of the dough,
lay dead. The mother, bending, over her, searched
in vain for some token of life, but the pulse had
ceased to beat ; her loyal heart was forever still.
The battle was now raging in all its wild fury ;
but the heroic mother, instead of flying to the cel-
lar for safety, took up* Jennie's work, and with
Jennie lying dead at her feet, went on with the
bread-making till the battle closed.
Jennie Wade had always been planning for her
burial. A complete burial-suit was in the house.
But after the battle was over, the safety of the army
made it imperative that the dead, lying bloated on
the battle-field under a scorching July sun, should
be buried at once. A squad of stalwart men, grim
with the dust and smoke of battle, took Jennie
Wade up tenderly, wrapped a flag about her, com-
pletely covering her soiled calico gown and her
hands all covered with dough, and carried her un-
coffined to her grave. But many a soldier who
was fed at her hands, and all who have heard the
pathetic story, will pause where Jennie Wade lies
sleeping to pay her the honor due a heroine of the
The mother still lives in Gettysburg ; but the
208 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
surviving daughter, Mrs. McClelland, with her sol-
dier husband, who was on another battle-field at
the time of her peril at Gettysburg, is now living
near Tacoma, Wash. She has from the first been
an active and valuable worker of the Woman's
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 209
THE HOSPITAL AT POINT OF
WHEN the Union army was massed at City
Point in the desperate struggle to capture
Petersburg and Richmond, it became necessary to
establish a large hospital at Point of Rocks, a few
miles above City Point.
Log cabins, put up from timber green from the
forest, and tents, served as quarters for the sick
and wounded ; and three or four thousand of the
worst cases were quartered there almost immedi-
ately, being soon increased to five thousand. The
army operating against Richmond was only a few
miles away, and the thunder of their guns could
be heard all day long, and the night sky was often
illuminated by bursting shells ; for two armies
were facing each other between Point of Rocks
and Richmond, and occasionally a shell would
come screaming over to remind us that we were
in range of the enemy's guns. The cooking ar-
rangements, when I reached Point of Rocks, were
of the most primitive character. Two log cabins
without floors or chimneys, with openings in the
210 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
roof to allow the smoke to escape, and big kettles
hanging over smoking, crackling log fires, were
used for cooking purposes. There were great
black iron kettles for coffee, tea, soups, meat,
beans, and rice.
When I saw the messes served to the sick and
wounded men in the wards, as each cabin was
called, I did not wonder that the men turned away
The tin cups, in which the patients received
their tea and coffee, were black and battered; the
platters had been used in many a march, and were
rusty and greasy. Into each one of these platters
was dished out rice, beans, or mixed vegetables,
as the men preferred. My mental comment was,
" There is not one thing here fit for a well man
to eat, much less a sick or wounded man." The
surgeon in charge seemed not to know that things
were not up to the proper standard ; and I was
silent — silent till I was out of the hearing of
these men, and until I had a chance to say all
that was in my heart to say. The office of the
surgeon in charge was in a frame dwelling on the
grounds. When I had seated myself in his office,
he turned suddenly upon me and questioned,
" Well, what do you think of my hospital } "
" Perhaps you would not like to hear ; you may
wish only flattery," I answered very kindly.
*' Yes ; I want to know the truth. If you see
anything that can be improved just say so frankly ;
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 211
but you must remember we are under the enemy's
guns, and can't have the conveniences and luxuries
that they have in the big cities."
" I will not suggest anything that cannot be ac-
complished here within a week, and yet it would
be a great change for the men. I would begin
with the kitchen. I would build a kitchen with a
chimney ; there are plenty of rocks here."
"Yes, that is so."
" Then, I would have a floor in it, and two of
the largest ranges the market affords."
" That is impossible ; the government would
not supply ranges."
" I will supply the ranges. The Christian Com-
mission is ready at an hour's notice to honor any
order that I am likely to give."
" The men couldn't manage them."
*' No, perhaps not ; but I would put in two first-
class women to do the managing, and the men you
have could do the work."
After very much more talk, he suggested that
I might make the attempt.
I wrote immediately to George H. Stuart of
Philadelphia, President of the Christian Commis-
sion, stating the condition of affairs at the Point
of Rocks Hospital, requesting lumber for kitchen,
lime for chimney, two first-class ranges, a thou-
sand tin cups and platters, and all the necessary
supplies to start a kitchen.
My letter was promptly received, and Mr. Stuart
answered by telegram : —
212 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
"Everything ordered will be sent this afternoon. Also
crates of dishes. Go ahead. You shall have all you need."
I had already telegraphed to Mrs. E. W. Jones,
one of my most reliable workers, to come to me
immediately, and Miss Hattie Noyes, another su-
They both came as fast as steam could bring
them, reaching there before the kitchen was com-
pleted. A cabin had been prepared for them ; but
as shingles were not at hand, it was covered with
canvas. As the ladies were entirely competent to
complete the arrangements, I left them for another
point. In less than a week a most remarkable
change had been wrought in that hospital. When
the first meals were issued from that well-regu-
lated kitchen in the nice white dishes and bright
tinware, the sick men, many of them, cried and
kissed the dishes, and said it seemed most like
getting home. Instead of the slops dished out of
vessels that looked like swill-buckets, there came
to the beds of the very sick and severely wounded,
baked potatoes, baked apples, beef-tea, broiled
beefsteak (when allowed), and especially to the
wounded, toasts, jellies, good soup, and every-
thing in the best home-like preparation.
The surgeon looked on in utter surprise. But
the patients fared better than my heroic women.
There came a beating, driving rain, and their
canvas roof leaked like a sieve. They wrapped
rubber blankets about their clothing, put rubber
OF THE CIVIL WAR, 213
blankets on their bed, raised their umbrellas, and
slept. Of this trial Mrs. Jones wrote me. I
quote from her letter : —
**This has been a trying day. All night and all day the
rain has come down in torrents in our quarters and the
kitchen, as well as out-of-doors. Quarts of water ran off our
bed while we slept. Almost everything had to be dried,
even to bed and bedding, and in the kitchen it was even
worse. But to-night finds us in good spirits, and our zeal
undampened, though our work has been most thoroughly
E. W. J."
The putting on of new roofs was only a ques-
tion of a day or two, and they had no more trouble
from rain after that.
This hospital became so large that another
kitchen had to be established, and three other
ladies were added to the force.
These kitchens were the most important in the
entire service, except, possibly, the great kitchen
at Cumberland Hospital, Nashville, Tenn. The
fame of the cookery there extended all along the
line. Surgeons came long distances to see for
themselves if the reports were true about them.
To many it seemed incredible that the cooking
for the very sick could be so well managed right
along the front lines in these field hospitals.
At my request. General Grant, commanding
the United States forces with headquarters at
City Point, visited these famous kitchens.
Himself and two of his staff went in disguise.
214 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
With his slouch hat drawn down, and coming
in citizen's clothing, no one noticed him. They
stood by the door of the largest kitchen, while the
dinner was issued. He asked, when the food had
been sent out, a few questions and looked at the
bill of fare, then followed to the wards to see the
patients receive it.
He said, when I next came down from Washing-
ton and called at headquarters, that he thought it
was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen.
He was unusually enthusiastic.
"Why," said he, "those men live better than I
do ; and so many of them too. How they manage
to cook such a variety for so many hundreds is
what puzzles me."
Then he told me about his going through the
wards while they were taking their dinner, and
noticing how greatly they enjoyed the food. And
when told that the most of this food came
FROM THE COMMUTATION OF GOVERNMENT RA-
TIONS, he was still more surprised.
When he was passing through one of the wards,
a convalescing soldier, taking him to be a delegate
of the Christian Commission, called out, " Say,
Christian, won't you bring me a pair of socks } "
" I'll see that you get a pair," the general re-
sponded, and passed out ; but he arranged to have
the man get a pair of socks.
But where are the noble women who labored
there with so much energy and zeal years ago .-*
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 21 5
Mrs. Jones, a most saintly woman, the widow of
a Presbyterian minister, sits serene in the evening
of life — her work done and well-done — at Welles-
ley, Mass., where her daughter is the attending
physician of the college.
All the years of her life have been given to be-
nevolent and reform work, and now she waits and
listens for the heavenly voice, and the rustle of
the ancrel's wins^s.
Miss Noyes is in Canton, China, where she has
been in mission work ever since the close of the
war. A few years ago a beautiful poem written
by her, entitled, '' Toiling All Night," was exten-
sively published in this country. She has several
times returned on a visit to her native land, and
was, when she came to us, the same bright, cheer-
ful, earnest-hearted woman, as when, amid the
thunders of battle, she ministered to the sick and
wounded soldiers of the Republic.
Fortune has not dealt generously with some of
the others who labored there. One, a competent
worker, is now poor. She lives in Illinois.
Another married and settled on a land claim.
Her husband died from overwork and exposure,
leaving her in the wilderness, without help to
bury him, for days. After he was laid away, she
struggled on, determined to hold the claim ; but a
fearful snowstorm one winter came, and buried
her and her two little girls under the snow, till
the top of the house was level with the plain.
2l6 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
They remained buried for many days before
being dug out. Some men thought about her,
and travelled miles to ascertain if she was all
They searched long before they could find
her shanty, and when they did, had to dig tons of
snow away before they could get her out. She
now lives in Colorado.
These years have wrought great changes ; but
all the workers will look back, no matter how bright
or how dark the hours that may come to them,
with great satisfaction on their heroic work at
Point of Rocks, Va.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 21/
THE SWEET SINGER OF THE
IN the fall of 1864, when the Union army was
massing against Richmond, Va., the hospitals
in and around Washington were very much over-
Under special orders from Mr. Stanton, Secre-
tary of War, and with the hearty co-operation of
President Lincoln, I had previously assumed the
general supervision of the special-diet kitchens of
the United States army hospitals all along the
It also devolved upon me to select the lady
superintendents for that important service, two
for each kitchen. The food for the very sick and
the severely wounded, on orders of the ward sur-
geons, was prepared under their supervision.
In some of these special-diet kitchens as many
as 1,000, and in some 1,500 patients, were supplied
with carefully prepared food in great variety three
times a day.
It will be readily seen that competent women
were needed to take the management of this im-
2l8 WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
portant work. They had not only to command a
force of twenty or thirty men in these kitchens,
and maintain discipline and good order, but they
had, under hospital authority, the entire responsi-
bility of supplying the proper preparation of food,
on time and without the least delay or confusion.
Their high position also demanded that they
should be ladies of culture and social standing,
who could command the respect -and confidence of
officers and surgeons in charge. It is greatly to
the honor of the patriotic women of the North,
that scores of accomplished ladies of high social
position volunteered to fill these important places.
Great care had to be taken in their selection,
and none were accepted unless highly indorsed.
One day there came to my headquarters in
Washington a young lady from Pawtucket, R.I.
She was twenty-two years old, as I afterwards
learned ; but she was so childlike in appearance
that she seemed much younger.
''I am Lizzie B ," she said by way of intro-
duction. "I was ready and waiting, and just as
soon as I received your letter containing pass and
orders to come, I started."
My heart sank within me. I was expecting
Lizzie B— — , but I had anticipated meeting a
very different-looking person.
Every letter of recommendation had said : " Al-
though Miss B is young in years, she is ma-
ture in character, and is of the highest type of
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1\C)
American womanhood, and will command respect
anywhere. We commend her to you as one of
our noblest women, who will be equal to any posi-
tion, and one who will never fail nor falter in the
line of duty."
I had naturally expected a woman of stately
and commanding presence, and one who would be
equal to any emergency ; but she seemed to me to
be only a child in years and experience.
" I have ordered up my baggage," she said with
childlike simplicity, " and I have brought my little
melodeon with me. I thought it might be useful."
Sure enough, when her luggage came, and the
box containing the instrument was opened, she
took out the smallest melodeon I ever saw.
''What shall I do with that dear little child
from Rhode Island and her little melodeon } " I
said to my secretary, Mary Shelton, now Mrs.
Judge Houston of Burlington, Iowa. But she
could not solve the problem.
When the heavy work of the day was through,
weary and full of care and anxiety, we joined
Miss B in the parlor. After some conversa-
tion, she said, —
" Would you like to have me play and sing } "
We assented, and she sat down at the instru-
ment and began to play and sing.
We were amazed and charmed. It seemed as
though the curtains of heaven were lifted, and the
songs of an angel were floating down upon us.
220 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
The tones of the little melodeon were soft and
clear, and the voice of the singer was sweet and
remarkably sympathetic. Her notes thrilled one ;
there was life and spirit in them. After listening
to her for an hour or more, weariness and anxiety
were gone, and I knew just what to do with Lizzie
There were tens of thousands of aching and
burdened hearts all about us ; and she, with her
wonderful gift of song, could lift some drooping
spirit, and pour the balm of peace into some
wounded, fainting hearts. I took her and her
melodeon to Campbell Hospital the next morning,
and told her to sing as she had opportunity.
The sick and wounded were quartered in great
wooden barracks eighty feet long. There were
rows of cots on either side of the room. That
very day she went into one of these wards. She
had never been in a hospital before ; and when she
entered and saw the long rows of cots, and all the
faces of the men, whether they were lying down
or sitting up, turned towards her, she grew faint
and dizzy, and her courage almost failed her. She
seemed powerless to do anything but to walk on
down the long aisle.
At last a soldier called to her from his bed, —
" Say, miss, won't you write a letter for me } "
It was a great relief to have the oppressive
silence broken and to have something to do. As
she sat down beside his cot, she asked, —
OF THE CIVIL WAR, 221
" To whom shall I write ? "
And he thrust his hand down under his pillow,
and drew forth a letter which she read with tears.
" What shall I say to her ? "
" Tell her that the surgeons think that I may
live a week or two yet."
" Oh ! but you may get well."
" No ; I can never recover. I have a fatal
" Shall I ask your mother to come to you } "
" No ; she cannot come. She is too poor, and
she can't leave the younger children ; but she is
praying for me."
** Would you like to have me to pray for you .^'*
''Yes, miss, if you will."
Lizzie B took one of his thin, cold hands in
her own and knelt beside his cot, and offered up
one of those low, sweet, sympathetic prayers that
come from the heart and ascend straight to the
throne of mercy.
When she arose, every man who could leave his
bed was standing about the cot, and many were
wiping away the tears they could not restrain.
''Would you like to have me sing something.^"
she questioned, looking kindly into their faces.
"Oh! do — please do," they all urged; and she
sang one of the sweet songs of the gospel that
she could sing so well.
Of course they were all delighted, and begged
that she would come again.
222 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
*' I have a melodeon," she said, as she left them ;
"and I'll come to-morrow and have that brought
into the ward, if the surgeon says I may."
As they looked wistfully after her, one of the
soldiers, wiping the tears from his eyes, said, —
" She looks like a woman, but she sings like an
The next day the little melodeon was carried
into that ward, and Lizzie B sang for them,
and the surgeon in charge was one of the audi-
tors. He was so delighted with the influence of
her singing, that he gave orders that she be
allowed to sing in all the wards of that hospital.
From that time on, she devoted her time to the
service of song, till all the hundreds in that hos-
pital had been cheered again and again by her
tender words and sweet, sympathetic voice.
The effects of her singing were so uplifting and
comforting that I extended her field, and had an
ambulance placed at her command that she might
visit other hospitals. After that she made the
rounds among the hospitals at Washington, going
day by day from one hospital to another. Every-
where her coming was hailed with joy. Mothers
and wives who were watching hopelessly beside
their dying ones were lifted in heart and hope
towards God and heaven. Men who had been
strong in battle to do and to dare, but who now
lay sorely wounded and weak, and heart and flesh
well-nigh failing them, were lifted on billows of
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 223
hope and faith and felt strong to live and to do,
or to suffer and die.
Thousands were cheered and saved from de-
spair by this wonderful singer of the hospitals.
I found her afterwards in other work, equal to
the management of large interests. She could
have taken charge of a special-diet kitchen, but I
have always thanked God that her time was given
instead to songs in the hospitals. She has changed
her name since then. She is now the wife of a
Congregational minister ; but her voice still holds,
by its sweet, sympathetic cadences, the listening
224 ^ WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A YOUNG NURSE AT GETTYSBURG.
LITTLE SADIE BUSHMAN, who was not
J quite ten years old at the time of the battle
of Gettysburg, proved herself a little heroine.
Mr. and Mrs. Bushman, learning that the battle
would rage in all probability on or near their
premises, sent this child with her brother to her
grandmother's, two miles away, while the parents
gathered up the other children and undertook to
Sadie took hold of her brother's hand, and they
hurried on as fast as their feet could carry them.
But it was not long before their pathway led them
into the thick of the fight along Seminary Ridge.
The roar of the artillery was continuous, but they
could not retreat. There came a blinding flash
and a deafening roar. A shell whizzed past them.
A gray-haired officer seized the children, and hur-
ried them down the ridge toward their destination.
But scarcely less danger awaited them there,
as their grandmother's house and yard was con-
verted into a hospital. The first work of the
child when she reached this place was to hold a
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 22$
cup of water to a soldier's lips while one of his
legs was sawed off.
She was separated from her parents two weeks
before they knew she was alive, but all that time
she was ministering to the wounded soldiers. She
carried soup and broth, and fed those who could
not help themselves. She worked under the
orders of the surgeons, and was furnished with
supplies by the Christian Commission as long as
the hospitals were kept open in Gettysburg. She
is now a married woman — Sadie Bushman Jun-
kerman — and lives near Oakland, Cal. ; but the
scenes of the Gettysburg battle years ago are
vividly remembered by her.
226 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
A BUT'FUL GUV'MENT MULE.
AFTER tb^fall of Richmond it was found that
L the |5eople were in a very destitute condi-
tion, many of them being almost in a state of star-
Every agency was at once used to furnish them
The government issued rations as they came
in, and the Sanitary and Christian Commissions
distributed large supplies.
Among those who assisted in distributing the
supplies of the Christian Commission was the
Rev. John O. Foster, now living in Chicago, 111.
Each day the supplies would be issued accord-
ins: to the amount on hand and the number stand-
ing in line.
Slowly the procession would march up with
baskets to get what was offered ; black and white,
rich and poor, old and young, all fared and shared
One evening after the issue had been made and
the room cleared, an old colored man, who had
been sitting off in one corner on a box, arose and
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 22/
shuffled along towards Mr. Foster. Taking off
his old torn hat he made a low bow.
" Why, you're too late ; why didn't you come
up when the others did } "
" No, massa, I izent. Ben's done gone and
got my rashuns. I'se cum har on bizness."
*' Well, what can I do for you } "
*' I'ze mos' 'shamed to tell you, Capt'n," and he
put his old hat to his face and chuckled heartily.
Then continued, " You see, Capt'n, day's sellin' lot
uv guv'ment mules cheap, mighty cheap, mos' as
cheap as dirt, and I cud make a fortin if I could
buy one ; day's sellin' for twenty dollars, massa
— but'ful guvment mules." Then there was an
" Well } "
*' I thot mebbe you'd len' me de money."
Foster laughed heartily.
*' How would you ever pay me back } "
" By haulin' ; dar's a big speculation in it ;
make a fortin right off."
" Where will you get a wagon t "
*' Oh, I'ze got a wagin ; one ole massa throde
away and I mended up. An' I'ze got ropes and
ebery ting 'cept de mule ; dat's all I want now."
** You think you will pay me back } "
** Sartin, massa. If I don't pay, I guvs up de
Again Mr. Foster laughed at the thought of
that mule coming back on his hands.
228 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
*' Well, I think you ought to have the mule
now," was Foster's generous reply; "and here is
twenty dollars to buy one, but you must pay it
back," and he handed him a ten-dollar and two
" My Lor, massa ! Neber had so much money
'fore in all my life. If I dun fail to pay it back,
de mule's yourn, sure."
" Now, don't allow yourself to be robbed or
cheated out of it."
" No, massa ; I hain't goin' to let nobody know
I'ze got nuthin' till I git hole on de mule."
Two days passed, and he saw nothing of the
colored man. On the evening of the third day
the colored man came in late, and took a seat in
the corner on a box. But after all had left the
room he came close up to Foster with his hand
on his pocket.
" Well, did you get the mule } "
" Yes, massa ; I got de most beautifullest mule
dat you ever seed — de bes' kind uv government
mule." Then he took from his pocket two clean,
crisp five-dollar bills, and handed them to Mr.
Foster. " 'Fore Sat'day night I gwine to pay
all, I 'spects ; I'ze doin' a busten bus'ness."
The next Saturday evening the colored man
was there ; and as soon as the room was cleared
he came forward, and, making sure that no one
else would see, he took out quite a roll of bills,
and from them selected a clean, crisp ten-dollar
bill and handed it to Mr. Foster.
OF THE CIVIL WAk.
''How in the world did you make so much
money ? "
"I tole you, massa, der war a speculashun in
it, an' der war. Me and de mule and Ben arned
ev'ry dollah. He's the beautifullest mule you
ever seed. Ben brung him round so as you could
Mr. Foster went to the door. There, sure
enough, stood a good, strong mule, as docile, as
quiet and sedate, as though he had not hauled the
artillery into the fight, and stood near the big
guns amid the thunders of battle ; for Ben said,
with great pride, —
*'Dis mule is one uv dem best mules dat pulled
de big guns ober de hills. Oh, he's an awful
strong hos ! "
Little Ben sat on a board placed as a seat at the
front of the wagon, his white, even teeth showing
from ear to ear, and his eyes sparkling with glad-
ness. Ben managed to buy a lot on a back alley
and build himself a shanty and a little stable for
the government mule.
Judging from his thrift, he is, no doubt, if alive,
one of the wealthy colored men of Richmond now!
230 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
COULD YOU GET ME A RAW
ONION AND SOME SALT?
A LITTLE company of my best workers were
sent to Wilmington, N.C, in charge of my
secretary, Mary Shelton, in the spring of 1865, to
care for the sick being gathered there, and the
half-starved prisoners being sent in for exchange.
The dangers and hardships of the journey were
very great ; but after many delays they finally
reached there and were able to render valuable
Among these chosen workers was Amanda
Shelton, now Mrs. Stewart of Mount Pleasant,
la., who, strong of body and courageous of soul,
was untiring in her ministrations. One day, as
she walked among the hundreds of the sick and
half-starved men, ministering to them as best she
could, the surgeon of the ward called her atten-
tion to a soldier who lay as one dead.
" That man," he said, " is starving to death.
We can't get him to eat anything. If you can
tempt him to eat he may possibly recover."
Miss Shelton went to the soldier, and tried to
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 23 1
get his attention ; but he lay with closed eyes, in
seeming indifference. She tried to tempt him by
mentioning every delicacy she could think of ; but
he shook his head and moaned impatiently.
As she remained standing beside his cot, trying
to think of something else, he opened his eyes,
and, looking her earnestly in the face, asked in
pitiful, appealing tones, —
" Say, miss, don't you think you could get me
a raw onion and some salt t "
''Yes, I think I can," she answered, and
hastened away to try to find some onions.
Fortunately, a lot of supplies had just come
in, and a sack of onions was among the goods
She hastened back with an onion in her hand
and a cup of salt. He seized the onion eagerly,
and began eating it as one would eat an apple or
a peach, dipping it in the salt cup each time as
he ate greedily.
The onion and salt was the balm of life to him ;
and from that time he began to amend, and was
soon able to be about the ward and eat everything
the surgeons would allow him to.
'' Oh, that onion did the business for me ! If I
ever get home I will raise a big lot of them," he
Shortly afterwards he was shipped North, and
as the war soon afterwards closed, no doubt he
reached his home safely.
232 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
MEN WHO COMMANDED THEM-
SELVES AND DID NOT SWEAR.
THE Mississippi River was very much swollen
in the spring of 1863, and a bayou near
Helena offered a possible channel in the direction
of Vicksburg. It was broad and deep enough to
admit the passage of steamers and gunboats, but
too narrow for a boat to turn around.
A fleet of steamers, bearing a well-chosen force,
and accompanied by gunboats, was sent down this
bayou. The fleet of boats had not gone far till
the way was found blockaded. Large trees had
been cut down, so that in falling they bridged the
narrow stream from shore to shore. But deter-
mined men can overcome almost any obstacle.
They did not stop to cut the trees to pieces,
but loosened them from the stumps, attached
ropes and chains to them, and with their hands,
by main force, pulled them out onto the dry land.
Overhanging branches had to be cut away, and
yet all the outworks of the boats were torn to
pieces. Finding that this channel of approach
was impracticable, a retrograde movement was
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 233
made. There was but one way to get the boats
out, and that was to back out stern foremost.
But while they were pushing on, the enemy had
been felling the trees behind them, and the same
hard work of pulling them out by human hands
became necessary ; and it was done.
It was my privilege to see the fleet of boats as
it came in to join the force opposite Vicksburg,
and a more dilapidated, ragged-looking lot of boats
and men was never seen on the earth.
They looked as though they had been through
a dozen battles. Little was left of the boats but
the substantial framework. The flags hung in
tatters ; the smoke-stacks had been carried away ;
the pilot-houses torn to pieces ; the guards and
outworks were gone ; the wheel-houses torn away,
and the broken wheels left bare.
As heroes returning from battle, the soldiers of
that expedition were welcomed by hearty cheers,
as boat after boat came in, by their comrades.
One boat, the first to enter the bayou, was the
last to come in, and arrived about ten o'clock at
The landing was made alongside our Sanitary
boat, where the agents and workers of the Sani-
tary and Christian Commissions were quartered.
There were a number of ladies there ; and their
sympathies were deeply moved, that men who had
been out on such hard service should be marched
out through the rain and mud at so late an hour
to make their camp.
234 ^ WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
"Why can they not stay under shelter where
they are till morning ? " was the indignant ques-
tion that passed from lip to lip, as we stood out
on the guards looking down upon them.
By the flambeau that burned with a weird,
lurid light, we could dimly see them fall into line
and march away, with their knapsacks on their
backs and their guns in their hands. But they
were a jolly set ; and as they plunged into the
mud, which was nearly knee-deep, some wag among
them cried out, in imitation of boatmen taking the
depth of the channel, '' No bottom ! no bottom ! "
Every soldier seemed to instantly join in the
chorus ; and " No bottom ! no bottom ! " rang out
from hundreds of throats, which was soon varied
to " No chickens ! " " No coffee ! " '' No 'taters ! "
as they plunged on in the darkness.
Of course such conduct was not consistent
with military dignity, and so the colonel tried to
stop them. But the noise was so loud that he
failed at first to make himself heard.
" Halt ! " he cried in thunder tones.
Immediately there was entire quiet ; every man
stood still just where he was to hear what his
commanding officer had to say ; not a foot moved.
"Soldiers, you forget yourselves," said the colo-
nel. "I know it is raining, and the mud is deep,
and the fare and the work have been hard ; but
you are in the midst of a great army, the com-
manding-general's quarters are near ; what will be
OF THE CIVIL WAR. ^35
thought of such noise and confusion ? You mis-
represent yourselves ; we will march quietly to
camp. Forward, march ! "
Not a passionate or profane word was spoken.
We were all curious to know who the officer was
who could command himself as well as his men.
The next day I was at General Grant's quarters ;
and I inquired as to who the officer was, and told
"I do not know him," I said earnestly, "but I
am sure he ought to be promoted. A man who
can govern himself as he did last night ought to
wear a general's shoulder-straps."
*' That was Colonel Legget. He is a good man,
and a very fine officer," was the general's reply.
" Do you know. General, that there is a great
deal of profanity among the officers and men .'* "
" Yes, I know ; I am sorry that it is so."
*T am glad to hear you say that you are sorry."
" I never swear."
*' Indeed ! It is encouraging to hear a man of
your influence say that. I am glad you have so
much moral principle."
*' It is not moral principle," he answered
quickly. '* I never contracted the habit of profan-
ity. I should not utter an oath if I knew what I
was about ; and, not having the habit, I would not
likely do so unconsciously. Profanity does not
comport with the dignity of the military service."
" No; nor with Christianity, which lifts a higher
236 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
standard. I wish you could have said that Chris-
tian principles furnished an added restraint."
" I believe in the Christian system, and have
great respect for Christian people. They are
doing a grand work in the army ; but I am not a
Christian as you understand it."
" I wish you were. You walk amid dangers,
and many of us feel anxious about you — many
prayers go up for your safety. I would feel that
you were safer for both worlds if you were a
"I would like to be a Christian."
Just then General Rawlins, one of the grandest
men of the war, who was his chief of staff, came
forward with some documents for examination,
and the close conversation was interrupted, and I
took my leave. I am glad to know that afterward
he professed faith in the Divine Redeemer.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 237
HE DIED CHEERING THE FLAG.
AM. SHIPMAN, an Ohio volunteer, who was
• confined for eight months as a hostage,
was in Vicksburg jail during the siege, and was
released when Pemberton surrendered.
For a time he had a fellow-prisoner named John
B. Marsh, who had been forced into the Rebel
army. Marsh made an attempt to join the Union
forces, but was recaptured, and condemned to
be shot. Just before his execution he managed
to get the following note into Mr. Shipman's
hands : —
" Kind Friend, — If ever you reach our happy Hnes, have
this put in the Northern papers, that my father, the Rev.
Leonard Marsh, v^ho lives in Maine, may know what has
become of me, and what I was shot for. I am to be shot for
defending my country. I love her, and am willing to die for
her. Tell my parents that I am also happy in the Lord.
My future is bright. I hope to speak to you as I pass out to
One of the guards told Mr. Shipman afterward,
that when young Marsh was placed in position
ready to receive the fire of his executioners, he
238 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
was told he could speak if he desired to do so.
Looking calmly upon the crowd for a moment, he
shouted out in strong, clear tones, ''Three cheers
for the old flag and the Union ! " There was no
response to his patriotic sentiment. He paused
for a moment, and then shouted at the top of his
voice, ''Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!" A volley
of musketry struck him in the breast, and stopped
the beating of his brave, loyal heart.
OF THE CIVIL WAR, 239
HOW PRESIDENT LINCOLN RE-
CEIVED THE NEWS OF
I WAS personally acquainted with President
Lincoln, and sat talking with him in his pub-
lic office when the telegram was brought in an-
nouncing General Sheridan's second victory in
the Shenandoah Valley, which resulted in the de-
feat of General Early.
When the messenger came in, Mr. Lincoln was
talking very earnestly ; and although he laid down
the telegram with the announcement, ''An im-
portant telegram, Mr. President," Mr. Lincoln
took no notice of it.
The messenger went as far as the door of the
room, and seeing that Mr. Lincoln had not taken
up the telegram he returned, and laying it a little
nearer to him on the desk, repeated, —
"An important telegram, Mr. President."
But as the president kept on talking, and took
no notice of it, the messenger retired.
He was at that time talking of the sanitary
condition of the army; the relation of food to
240 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
health, and the influence of the special -diet
kitchen system in restoring the soldiers to health,
and its effect in lessening the number of fur-
I, too, talked earnestly ; as, while pushing the
work of the special-diet kitchens, I believed most
heartily in furloughs.
But earnest as I was, I was exceedingly anx-
ious to know the contents of that telegram.
There was during that interview, that far away
look in his eyes, that those seeing could never
At last he paused and took up the despatch, and
after looking over it read it aloud.
"This is good news indeed," he said, and a
smile lit up his rugged features as he went on
with his comments.
" This Sheridan," he said, '' is a little Irishman,
but he is a big fighter."
Soon after I arose to take my leave. He, too,
arose and stood like a giant before me, as he ex-
tended his hand, and said, *' Well, success to you.
Come in again."
I did not realize his greatness at that time, but
now all the world knows that Abraham Lincoln
will stand out a colossal figure as long as Amer-
ican history is read. A thousand years will not
dim the lustre of his name or fame.
When his armies were pushed back till they
built their camp-fires under the shadow of the
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 24 1
nation's Capitol, and treason glared at him from
the near palaces, and the ship of state rocked in
the trough of the waves of civil war and social
revolution, he stood firm and strong at the helm,
with calm, unwavering trust in God. In a rougher
mould, he possessed the majesty of a Clay, the
sagacity of a Franklin, the wit of a Ben Jonson,
the benevolence of a Howard, and the social qual-
ities of the Adamses. No heart in all the land
throbbed with a truer, kindlier charity towards
all, than did the great heart of Abraham Lincoln
when the assassin's bullet stopped its generous
beating. Among philanthropists, in all ages, Lin-
coln will stand out as The Great Emancipator,
who brought liberty to an enslaved and cruelly
wronged race ; and Right will laurel-crown him as
No one bullet ever went forth on a deadlier
mission, or struck so heavy a blow to friends and
foes alike, as did the bullet that laid Abraham
Lincoln low in the dust.
Victor and vanquished, who had come up out
of a great struggle with their garments rolled in
blood to ground their arms at his feet, and who
had received his benediction of peace and good-
will to all, were alike mourners when the assassin's
bullet did its deadly work.
It was as though there was one dead in every
house. The mourners went about the streets un-
comforted. Men forgot their love for gold and
242 A WOMAN'S REMTNTSCENCES
their lust for power ; statesmen groped about like
blind men for some hand to lead. TJic world was
in mouiiimg ; for all the world knew that he had
come to the kingdom for such a time as that.
The lives of such men as Abraham Lincoln are
measured by deeds, and not by length of days.
His work was wrought in a few short years. He
answered the question of the wisdom and solidity
of a republican form of government by hurling its
betrayers from power. He established human
liberty on the immutable rock of intelligent pub-
lic sentiment. When he proclaimed above the
sleeping heroes of Gettysburg, " a government of
the people, by the people, and for the people," he
sounded forth an endless jubilee that has echoed
and re-echoed through the world, till the people of
every kindred and tongue have heard the glad tid-
ings, and human slavery has been branded as a
crime, and outlawed by all the civilized nations of
The saviour of his people, the liberator of the
oppressed, the great-hearted friend of humanity,
he will stand out a colossal figure in history while
men love liberty more than life, while men love
freedom more than chains, and while human sym-
pathy links us to each other and draws us toward
God and heaven.
It seems fitting, as there was not one of all the
millions who loved him, and who would have
shielded him at any cost, but knew not of his
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 243
peril, that the flag he loved should have become
his avenger, and caught the foot of the assassin
in its loyal folds, and hurled him away to certain
death. That flag, kept securely in a glass case,
is held sacred in the treasure-house of the nation.
The swift-footed years have gone by, till twejity-
nine have passed ; but Lincoln is not forgotten :
his memory is as fresh and sweet as it was at the
The robins come to build their nests, and the
bluebirds sing their sweet spring songs, just as
they did twenty-nine years ago this April-time ;
but he is not forgotten, for his work goes on.
The flag that Lincoln upheld is the banner hon-
ored of all nations, the principles he sustained
and taught are more and more becoming the
heritage of the world, and will be universal.
244 ^ WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
HOW I GOT THE COTTON.
A FEW days after the first fleet ran the block-
ade at Vicksburg, another fleet, composed
entirely of wooden steamers, ran through that
The plans of the government coming to my
knowledge, I sent a note to the medical director,
offering to ship a lot of hospital supplies, and ask-
ing him to designate the boat on which I should
ship them. My note came back indorsed, —
" Send supplies down on the Tigress^
I Still have that letter on file.
The Tigress was a trim, stanch little craft
which General Grant had used for headquarters.
And feeling sure the swift, trim little steamer
would make the passage safely, I shipped a heavy
lot of supplies on her.
There were six wooden steamers, with barges in
tow, laden with army supplies.
On the night of the 26th of April, 1863, they
ran the blockade.
All the important machinery was protected by
bales of cotton and bales of hay.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 245
All the boats got through safely, except the
In the midst of the fiery channel a solid shot
cut through the heavy gunwales of the barge she
was towing, and went through her hull, just below
the water-level. Her crew deserted her, and made
their escape in the small boats which were there
for that purpose.
She filled with water so slowly that she drifted
down into the Union lines before she sank, sink-
ing near the shore on the Louisiana side of the
Two days afterwards I received a letter from
an Iowa colonel, whose name I have forgotten,
whose regiment was in camp opposite where the
Tigress sank, informing me that the men of his
command were willing to wade out neck-deep and
secure the cotton about the engine of the Tigress,
if the commanding general would give it to me for
sanitary purposes ; and that as he was coming up
to Young's Point with empty wagons for supplies,
he would gladly deliver it there.
I was very much perplexed as to what I had
best do, but finally sent the colonel's letter to
General Grant, who had gone below Vicksburg
with his army, with a brief letter, saying that '' If
the granting of this request is entirely consistent
with your sense of honor, and the best interest of
yourself and of the government, I would be glad
to receive the cotton, as I shipped a heavy lot of
246 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
supplies on the Tigress^ and they have all been
As soon as my letter was received, the order
was issued, and sent up by a special messenger. I
sent it immediately to that generous Iowa colonel,
with a most kindly message.
I do not know how deep the Iowa soldiers
waded out to secure the cotton ; but I do know
that a heavy lot came up in good condition very
promptly, and that I shipped it to St. Louis to
Partrage & Co. for sale, and that it was sold for
^1,950, which I charged to my account, and which
enabled me to more than double the amount of
supplies I had lost.
I see by bills in my possession that I bought
immense quantities of supplies in St. Louis.
There is one bill of seventy-five bushels of dried
apples, while all the onions in the market were
bought up, and lemons and other antiscorbutics ;
and when our forces surrounded Vicksburg, heavy
supplies were rushed in to meet their press-
ing wants, especially those who were sick and
wounded in hospital and camp.
Somehow I lost the address of that Iowa colonel ;
but although more than thirty years have passed,
I have never ceased to feel the most profound
gratitude to that colonel and his men for their
heroic services. If this should fall under the eyes
of any of them, I should be very glad to hear from
them, and to thank them personally.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 247
THE SEQUEL TO -UNCLE TOM'S
THE name of Harriet Beecher Stowe recalls
the story of ''Uncle Tom's Cabin." It was
a story that thrilled and moved the people of this
country as no other story has ever done. Its in-
fluence was not a sentimental and transitory one.
The shafts of truth were sent home to men's con-
sciences, and were abiding ; they live to-day.
It may not, however, be generally known that
the hero of " Uncle Tom's Cabin " did not die till
a feiv yea 7's ago — in 1883.
I knew him personally, and have heard the story
from his own lips. Mrs. Stowe was acquainted
with Uncle Tom, and read a sketch of his life
which had been published by the Anti-Slavery
Society before she wrote her book.
His history and work after the beating he had
received, which brought him down to death's
door, are more remarkable than those that had
preceded, which she records, and where she leaves
him dead. He recovered, and afterwards had an
opportunity to escape with his family from slav-
248 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
ery. He used such sagacity in planning his jour-
ney, preparing for months for the great event,
that he was able to elude his pursuers, and reach
Canada in safety. Two of his four children were
too small to travel on foot such a long journey.
So he made a sack with straps over his shoulders,
and carried them on his back out of slavery. At
times his back was so sore, from the heat and
friction, that the blood ran down to his heels.
It was a heroic effort for freedom for himself,
and his children, and his wife.
He was, as far as I am able to judge, the most
remarkable colored man that has ever lived on
His home, which I have visited, was on the
Sydenham River, near the town of Dresden, On-
tario, Canada. It was a most comfortable one.
He did not know one letter from another when
he reached Canada. He became a scholar, and
in a few years spoke the English language cor-
rectly and without the Southern accent.
He had neither money nor credit when he set-
tled in Canada, but he owned at the time of his
death one of the finest farms in the Dominion.
He had never studied oratory, but he became
one of the most eloquent speakers in Canada and
England. He could fill Exeter Hall, England,
without effort. Lords and ladies entertained him
at their castles, and on invitation of Queen Vic-
toria he visited her at Windsor Palace.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 249
His name was Josiah Henson. I visited him in
August, 1882, at his home. He was then nearly
ninety-three years of age. In March, 1883, hav-
ing turned into his ninety-fourth year, he died.
His mind was clear, his conversation intelligent
and logical. The pathetic story of his running
away from slavery would have been, if touched by
Mrs. Stowe's pen, far in advance of anything in
" Uncle Tom's Cabin."
He was a friend of the slaves, and for several
years before, and especially during the war, was
one of the conductors and guides on the under-
ground railroad to Canada.
He founded a colony near Dresden.
He was well acquainted with Mrs. Stowe, and
frequently visited her at her home in Boston.
He wrote his life before she wrote '' Uncle
His anti-slavery speeches in England won him
a great reputation for oratory.
The last time he was in London, Queen Victoria
invited him to an interview with her at Windsor
Palace ; and after lunch was served to him and his
party, he was ushered into the presence of the
Queen, in the great drawing-room of the palace,
where all the lords- and ladies-in-waiting had been
gathered in. The interview was a most interest-
When she told him that she was glad to see
him, and spoke appreciatively of his services, he
responded easily and frankly : —
2 50 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
"■ I am glad to see you, my sovereign, and to be
so graciously received by you. But I do not forget
that I am an alien, and that I was a slave. I came
flying for life and liberty to your dominion ; and
when my weary feet touched the soil over which
you reign I was a free man. I knelt reverently,
and kissed the earth, and thanked my God that
wherever your flag floated the slave was free and
safe. I desire to assure your Majesty, that among
the millions of your subjects, although I am one
of the humblest, there are none more true and
loyal than Josiah Henson."
Her Majesty was visibly moved. Prince Leo-
pold and Princess Beatrice, two of her children,
were on either side of her during this interview,
which lasted for some time. She took from the
hand of Beatrice a little package and handed it
to him, saying : —
" Accept this as a small token of my apprecia-
tion of your valuable services to the slaves in
America, and as a token of my interest in your
race, especially those who have settled in Canada."
The package contained a small picture of her-
self set in gold, resting on a gold easel. As that
was kept in the safe at the bank I did not see it ;
but I did see the oil painting of " Uncle Tom," as
everybody called him, presented to him by the
Anti-Slavery Society of Boston, about the time
Mrs. Stowe's book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," came
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 25 1
SECRETARY STANTON'S GENEROUS
IN October, 1863, I came up from the hospitals
in the front, to attend a sanitary convention
at Muscatine, Iowa.
As I was legally commissioned the sanitary agent
of the State by Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood,
having been elected to that position by the Legis-
lature of Iowa, my presence was greatly desired
by the workers.
The convention was large and representative.
But my own heart was greatly burdened with
touching messages from dying soldiers to their
wives and children. In the midst of the conven-
tfon I boldly announced my purpose to try to es-
tablish a home for soldiers' orphan children. The
proposition was received with the wildest enthu-
siasm ; and the convention took action at once,
not only indorsing the movement, but pledging
There was no precedent to follow, as there was
no institution of the kind in all the world.
I was elected president of ''The Orphans' Home
252 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
Association," but declined, and Governor Stone,
the newly elected governor of the State, was
chosen. The ablest men and women of the State
were brought into the organization, and the Home
was duly opened in a rented house.
The house, although large, was soon crowded to
overflowing, and we could get no larger building
that would accommodate the hundreds who were
applying for admission.
A committee sent out to search for more com-
modious quarters reported new, fine barracks on a
piece of confiscated land of thirty acres, adjoin-
ing the town of Davenport.
The barracks were new and well-built, and had
The leading men of Iowa, as well as the women,
were actively enlisted in the work.
Ex-Governor Kirkwood, and his private secre-
tary, N. H. Brainard, Governor Stone, Judge
Lowe, Judge Coles, Chaplain Ingalls, John Par-
vin, and many others whose names were a guar-
anty of honest and faithful work, were active.
I was selected to go to Washington and secure
these barracks as a gift from the government, if
possible. If I could not obtain them as a gift, I
was authorized to offer $1,000 a year as rent for
them. I protested strongly against being sent on
such an important mission ; but I was overruled,
and was obliged to accept the duty.
When I reached Washington, October, 1865, I
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 253
went to the surgeon-general's office, and made
known my mission, and secured an official state-
ment that those barracks would not be needed for
hospital purposes. I want to say in this con-
nection that Surgeon-General J. K. Barnes had
always co-operated with me most heartily in all
I then called on Ouarterm.aster-General Meigs,
the man who with such wonderful executive abil-
ity fed and clothed the great armies of the re-
public, furnishing quarters and equipments, and
paid their wages with an honesty and fidelity that
have never been questioned.
I had often met him before ; and no one who
ever saw him could forget his honest, rugged, but
When I made known my mission, he looked sur-
prised and pleased, and then said, —
" Well, now, that is certainly a good use to put
these deserted barracks to."
" General," I said, " all I want you to do, is to
say officially to the government that they will^not
be needed for military purposes."
" They were never needed ; they ought never
to have been built. It was a waste of money."
" Then, General, you can certainly say they
will not be needed for military purposes. Please
say that officially."
He took up his pen and wrote out a statement,
informing the government that the new cavalry
254 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
barracks at Davenport, la., would not be needed
for military purposes, " even if hostilities were
resumed." His statement covered over two
Thus armed, I went to the office of the Secre-
tary of War.
I had become acquainted with Mr. Stanton
under the most favorable circumstances.
The governor of Iowa had commended me to
him, and early in 1862 obtained for me a general
order for transportation of myself and supplies
and rations. And later, when I called on him per-
sonally, I was the bearer of letters of introduc-
tion and commendation from some of his most
influential and trusted friends.
Afterwards he always seemed glad to see me,
and graciously granted all my requests.
He was prompt and clear in all his business
methods, and was by far the best listener I have
ever met. When I talked to him there was no
need of repeating ; he apprehended my meaning.
When he talked, there was no room to misunder-
stand him. There was no fuss and bluster, or
pretence, or attempt to show off himself or his
authority ; and that pleased me. I went, therefore,
to his office with great hope and courage. When
I asked to see the Secretary of War, a young,
jolly-looking officer came forward and asked, —
" What can I do for you, madam ? "
" I wish to see Mr. Stanton."
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 255
'^Mr. Stanton is in Boston. I am Major Eccles,
acting Secretary of War, and will attend to any-
business you may have to transact."
I informed him as to my mission. He laughed
"That, madam, is a little beyond my preroga-
tive. I don't feel authorized to give away the
property of the government."
I put myself at once in telegraphic communica-
tion with Mr. Stanton. He asked some questions
as to the legal status of the institution, and that
was all I heard that day.
The next morning I took another requisition to
the War Department. It was for hospital sup-
plies. I distinctly remember the first few items,
1,800 blankets; 2,500 sheets; 3,000 pillow-cases;
1,500 pillows, and so on, till everything I could
remember that could be of use to the Home were
When I handed the document to Major Eccles,
I said, —
" Here is a small requisition I should like to
have go in with the application for the property."
"This is a small requisition," and he laughed
heartily as he read the list aloud.
"Yes, sir," I said with great gravity. "This
is a small requisition ; but with the help of the
generous people of Iowa, I hope we shall be able
to get along with that."
"Now seriously, on what grounds have you a
256 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
right to ask these supplies from the govern-
ment ? "
"Well, sir, I call your attention to the fact, that
at the beginning of the war the government had
very few hospital supplies. The loyal people of
the North helped to fit them up. The loyal State
of Iowa sent nearly $200,000 worth of supplies
into the military hospitals. Now, all I ask is that
you give us back a few of the supplies that we
gave you, as you no longer need them."
" You are certainly entitled to them. I will do
what I can to get this through."
The Iowa delegation at Washington, and the
officers in the War Department, including Major
Eccles, became greatly interested, and anxious that
Secretary Stanton's answer should be favorable.
When the answer came it was : —
*'Will you accept the property subject to the
approval of Congress } "
I flashed back my answer as quickly as possi-
*' Yes ; and will get the bill through without
annoyance to you."
As I was obliged to leave the War Department
before an answer came. Major Eccles drove up
to the house of my friend, where I was stop-
ping, with the telegraphic order, turning over
the property to the Association. The gift of the
barracks and the hospital supplies aggregated
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 2$y
I was lifted to the clouds, figuratively speaking,
and rushed to the telegraph-office, and sent off
despatches to the newspapers in Iowa. The next
morning all the leading papers in Iowa appeared
with great head-lines announcing the magnificent
Before Congress met we had bought out the
heirs of the confiscated property, remodelled and
plastered the buildings, and had nearly five hun-
dred soldiers' orphan children comfortably housed
Hon. Hiram Price, a member of Congress from
the Davenport District, took charge of our bill,
and carried it through Congress without annoy-
ance to Mr. Stanton.
The fact that we had possession, and were hous-
ing and supporting so many soldiers' orphan chil-
dren in these barracks, made opposition almost
With this valuable property in our possession, it
was an easy task to induce the State Legislature
to take this burden off our hands and make it
a State institution. The frame barracks have
been replaced by substantial brick buildings ;
but the Home is still conducted on the cottage
plan, and is one of the finest institutions of the
Edwin M. Stanton's generous action in giving
this timely help to a weak society secured the
success of a worthy institution, that has educated
258 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
and sent out thousands of children to be good and
Mr. Stanton was one of the strong, true, hon-
est men who made Mr. Lincoln's administration a
success. He was intensely loyal, and intolerant
to treason and self-seeking, and he made traitors
tremble on both sides of the line. He was, more
than any other man, the balance-wheel in the
complicated machinery of the government which
held and regulated its internal workings.
He was a clear and close thinker, a keen and
sagacious discerner of human motives, a tireless
worker, and was too open and frank to conceal
his opinions of men and things.
Too unselfish to enrich himself, he toiled on,
literally killing himself at work, and dying poor.
When passion and prejudice have passed away he
will receive his full meed of praise.
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 259
THE SPECIAL-DIET KITCHEN
NO part of the army service was so defective,
during the first two years of the war, as
the cooking department in the United States gov-
Few of the men employed as cooks in these
hospitals were trained or skilled ; most of them
had obtained their knowledge of cookery after
being assigned to duty, under most unfavorable
circumstances, and without the proper facilities
for doing their work.
One general kitchen provided the food for all
— the sick, the wounded, and the dying, as well
as the nurses and convalescents.
Where there were women nurses in a hospital,
and they could get a little stove of their own,
special dishes were prepared for the worst pa-
tients ; but there was no general system of pro-
viding dainty and suitable diet for the thousands
in need of delicate food in home-like preparation.
The supplies coming from the generous people
of the North occasioned great anxiety.
26o A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
The surgeons forbade their distribution at the
bedside of the patients, on the ground that some-
thing might be given which would endanger their
lives or retard their recovery, and ordered them
turned over to the commissary. Often supplies
thus turned over failed to reach the sick or
It was under these trying circumstances that
the plan of a system of special-diet kitchens
came to me, — clearly and definitely, as a flash
from the skies, — like a divine inspiration.
It was in December, 1863, that the thought
came to me, and I hastened at once to put the
plan into execution.
Everybody seemed to accept the plan with en-
thusiasm ; and the Sanitary and Christian Com-
mission, and the officers and surgeons of the
army, all hastened to co-operate with me in inaug-
urating and accomplishing this great reform.
The plan in itself was very simple and practi-
cal, and was entirely satisfactory to all parties.
I. The food for those needing special diet was
prescribed by the ward surgeons. A bill of fare
was provided, with the name of the patient and
the number of his bed, for every patient put on
special diet ; and on this bill the surgeon pre-
scribed his diet by making a mark opposite the
articles the patient was allowed. This plan gave
the sick or wounded man a chance to express his
own wants in regard to food, which was a great
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 26 1
2. These bills of fare were consolidated by
the ward-master, and a copy sent to the superin-
tendent of the special-diet kitchen, and the bills
were returned to their places again. So with
these consolidated lists before them, the man-
agers of the special-diet kitchen knew just what
to cook, and just the quantity.
3. The food thus ordered was prepared in the
special-diet kitchen, which, although under separate
management, was a part of the hospital, and as
completely under the control of the authorities as
as any other part of the hospital.
The kitchens were fitted up with ranges and
other suitable conveniences, and were under the
management of suitable ladies employed by the
surgeons in charge. A storeroom conveniently
near or adjoining was provided, where the com-
muted rations of soldiers put on special diet were
stored, also the supplies furnished by the Sanitary
and Christian Commissions ; and the woman in
charge of the special-diet kitchen carried the keys.
4. These dietary nurses were not cooks ; they
only superintended the work. Many of those who
worked in these kitchens were soldiers who were
somewhat disabled, or convalescent soldiers who
were not able to join their regiments.
In large hospitals, where one thousand or fifteen
hundred were furnished meals three times a day,
the work was divided up, and each man had his
part of the work, and soon became an expert in it.
262 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
There were in the large kitchens from twenty-five
to thirty men required to do the work.
The food thus systematically prepared under
the watchful eyes of women competent to govern
such a force and direct the work, was brought to
the bedside of the patients in home-like prepara-
No mistake would likely be made in the distri-
bution, as each patient had at the head of his bed
the list of articles of food prescribed by the sur-
geon of his ward.
The first kitchen was opened at Cumberland
Hospital, Nashville, Tenn.
The Christian Commission of Pittsburg, Pa.,
sent me the lumber to build a kitchen, storeroom,
and a ladies' room, and two of the largest ranges
in the market.
Mary E. Moorhead, a wealthy lady of that city,
daughter of Hon. J. K. Moorhead, at that time a
member of Congress, and one of Pittsburg's most
honored citizens, and Hannah Shaw, who has since
distinguished herself in missionary work in China,
took charge of that kitchen. Miss Moorhead has
since the close of the war devoted herself to benev-
The change wrought in that hospital was so
marvellous that all the leading surgeons from
Louisville to Chattanooga were anxious for the
establishment of special-diet kitchens in connec-
tion with their hospitals. Many of them could not
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 263
believe the wonderful stories circulated as to the
great reform wrought in Cumberland Hospital,
and, like the Queen of Sheba, came long distances
to see for themselves as to the truth of the matter,
and, like her, confessed that *' the half had not
been told them."
I was most generously sustained in this work
by the Christian Commission, who turned all their
supplies into these kitchens, and paid all the ex-
penses of this service. I was chosen superinten-
dent of the special-diet kitchen work, which rapidly
extended all along the lines from Vicksburg to
The surgeons accepting this help, agreed to em-
ploy the women selected by me, and allow them to
have charge of the supplies furnished for use in
the special-diet kitchens, from the government
and the Sanitary and Christian Commissions.
The surgeons had charge of the kitchen, ap-
pointed these women, and directed their work, as
in all parts of their hospitals.
There was no opposition to this work. Mr.
Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, Surgeon - General
Barnes, and Assistant - Surgeon - General Wood,
gave me their indorsement and all the aid I
needed. It soon became an admitted fact that
thousands of lives were being saved by this sup-
ply of better food, which many of them needed
more than they did medicine.
Surgeon-General Barnes became so enthusiastic
264 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
over the plan that he appointed a commission of
United States army surgeons to consider it, with
a view of adopting it and ingrafting it upon the
United States general hospital system.
I was invited by the surgeon-general to meet
with them. The committee received me most
graciously at their regular sittings in Washington,
D. C, and listened with great respect to my ex-
planations ; and after carefully considering my
plans, adopted them as a part of the regular
United States hospital system.
To give some idea of the magnitude of the
work, out of over one hundred special-diet kitch-
ens established by me, I give the amount of food
in rations issued from sixteen special-diet kitch-
ens, a record of which I happen to have now on
hand for February, 1865.
Milk, Cold 12,194
Milk, boiled 9,860
Milk, Thickened 7,517
Bread and Milk, Boiled 2,689
Beef Tea 7,548
Beef Essence 1,699
Bread and Butter 133,938
Toast, Buttered 28,539
Toast, Dry 23,809
Toast, Milk 33, 611
Corn Bread I5>7I4
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 265
Warm Cakes 2,629
Corn Starch 17^150
Soup, Chicken 8,472
Soup, Mutton 856
Soup, Beef 10,716
Soup, Barley 599
Soup, Oyster 10,193
Soup, Potato 2,301
Soup, Vegetable 4,885
Beef Steak 27,623
Roast Beef 3^,599
Turkey (only occasionally) .... 809
266 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
Canned Fruit 12,816
Stewed Fruit 29,266
Apple Sauce 7, 618
Apples, Baked ii»774
Cordials, etc 1,940
This was the regular bill of fare in all the spe-
cial-diet kitchens. If any one of these articles
could not be obtained, they were marked off.
Turkey was only on the list occasionally. It will
be seen by the great variety that the appetites of
the patients were consulted. Nothing, however,
was issued without it being ordered by the sur-
geon in attendance upon the patient.
Some of the articles furnished on the above list
may seem unfit for sick men ; but when we take
into consideration that there were many wounded
men who were allowed by the surgeons to eat any-
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 267
thing they might choose, and others who were
homesick, or hopelessly ill, or dying, who in the
loneliness of suffering remembered and craved
something because a kind mother's hand had once
prepared such dainties for them, it is no longer a
matter of wonder.
And since the loved ones at home could not
cheer them with their presence and love in their
dark hours of suffering, it was a delightful task
for these noble women to substitute home food
and words of cheer.
It is the verdict of history that this system of
special-diet kitchens saved thousands of lives.
During the last eighteen months of the war, over
two million rations were issued monthly from
this long line of special-diet kitchens, established,
many of them, almost under the guns.
26s A WOMAM^S REMINISCENCES
THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC — ITS
GLORIES AND ITS DANGERS.
THE remarkable growth of the American Re-
public is without a parallel in the history of
A hundred years ago she was a feeble nation
— in her infancy, and scarcely recognized by the
other nations of the earth. Now she stands fore-
most among the governments of the world, and
leads the nations in almost everything.
Her territory is extensive and contiguous, lying
between two great oceans, and bounded on the
north and south by navigable lakes and seas.
Her resources are almost boundless. She gluts
the markets of the world with her silver and gold.
Her iron and copper ores are rich and abundant,
nearly all the metals needed for the use of her
people may be had for the digging, and she may
bedeck her children with the jewels gathered from
her own fields.
She can produce an abundance of cotton, wool,
flax, hemp, and silk. She is already the chief
competitor in the cotton markets of Asia, and
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 269
from her own looms is clothing her people in mus-
lins and fine linen, and her daughters in royal
purple from her silk factories. Her food supply
is immense. Her grain-fields are broad and rich
enough to supply bread to the millions of her own
people, and to meet the needs of the needy nations
of the earth. Her meat supply is so large that
she is glad to share it with all the world. Her
fruit yield is ample, sufficient in variety and abun-
dance to meet the needs of all. Only a few lux-
uries are denied her. She could shut herself in,
and live luxuriously on her own products. There
is not one thing that comes from abroad that her
people could not live comfortably without. Tea,
coffee, spices, and tropical fruits are not necessary
to human life.
Her woods are abundant and fine, equal to any
reasonable demand. Her furniture goes to the
ends of the earth.
Her building material is abundant and of supe-
rior quality. She has granite and marble in va-
riety, nearly all kinds of valuable building-stones,
and clays of almost every description. Her pot-
teries are now doing credible work, and her china
and glass wares are attracting attention in other
lands. The new process by which glass china
is produced is a marvellous success.
Her people are intelligent and enterprising.
The rich resources of the country have stimulated
their activities and awakened their inventive ge-
2/0 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES
nius till they are the leaders in the work of the
world, and the most thrifty and enterprising na-
tion on the face of the globe.
They have tunnelled the mountains ; bridged
the rivers ; created water-ways ; made the wilder-
ness to bloom ; and chained steam and electricity
as motive powers to their chariot-wheels, to do
their bidding on the land and under the sea.
A system of government has been established
superior to any other known before among men ;
and a system of free schools that has no parallel
on the face of the earth has made the people
intelligent and efficient for the practical work of
life, far beyond other nations, taken as a mass.
And yet with all these blessings, dangers threaten
One of the dangers that threaten this glorious
Republic is the foreign emigration. Attracted by
her rich resources and the marvellous stories of
her wealth, the people of other nations are coming
to share our blessings. The danger is not in the
number who come, but in the character of many
of these new-comers.
They come to a new nation with old habits, and
old prejudices, and another language. They are
a misfit. They care nothing for the American
Republic and her free institutions, only as they
will add to their physical comfort and personal
aggrandizement. They do not assimilate or be-
come Americanized. Many of them are ignorant
OF THE CIVIL WAR. 2/1
and brutish. They huddle together ; they are as
much foreigners as they were in Hungary or
Sicily. They remain foreigners, and they have
nothing in common with us except their physical
Among them are the vicious and the idle. Our
thoroughfares are filled with tramps and beggars.
The prisons of our cities are crowded with foreign
criminals and paupers. Almost two-thirds of all
the criminals and paupers in our large cities are
foreign born. Criminals flying from justice ; pau-
pers who, from infirmities of body and mind, or
from idle and dissolute habits, must be supported,
— find a refuge here.
Statesmen may well question as to how long
this Republic can take into her bosom, and accord
all the rights of citizenship to, the criminals and
paupers of the world, without danger.
But there is danger from our own people. The
accumulation of great wealth, without a corre-
sponding increase of brains and culture, is giving
us an undesirable aristocracy. They ape the old,
effete aristocracies of the Old World.
They discount American institutions, and ^^ adore
a title'' They try to rule business, politics, and
social life. But this evil will be overcome.
In this country, where there are no entailed
estates, death equalizes wealth and power every
2/2 A WOMAN'S REMINISCENCES.
Bow low, fair clouds, and kiss the earth,
Where Human Freedom had her birth,
Where heroes struggled in the fight.
And patriots died for human right.
Bow low, and rainbow glories shed
Above a nation's gallant dead;
Then bear the news o'er land and sea,
Earth's fettered millions may be free.
Fly low, bright birds with painted wings.
And join the song a nation sings,
A glad, and sacred jubilee,
For God has set his people free.
Sing of the flag with starry field,
Sing^bf the eagle and the shield.
Sing of the victories of Peace,
Sing of the time when wars shall cease.
Bloom on, sweet flowers, thy perfume shed
Above each soldier's lowly bed ;
Kind nature's fairest tribute bring.
And clothe each mound with flowers of spring.
Look up, with loving, dewy eyes,
Into the blue recording skies.
And pledge in red, and white, and blue,
That May flowers ever will be true.
Let all the people gather near,
And bow themselves with reverent fear;
For God with mighty, outstretched hand
Has graciously redeemed our land.
Come, Peace, and spread thy sheltering wing ;
Come, Love, thy sweetest tribute bring;
Come, all, and join a sacred lay
To celebrate Memorial Day.
W4-- *Lrot *»
Wittenmyer, A. *^ Civii: WAr.E6or.W82
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