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Title: A Southern Woman's Story
Author: Pember, Phœbe Yates
Language: English
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[Illustration – Carleton & Co. colophon – Arabic calligraphy
meaning ‘book’]

New York:
Copyright, 1879, by
G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers.
London: S. Low, Son & Co.

   Samuel Stodder,                 Trow
    Stereotyper,        Printing and Book Binding Co.
90 Ann Street, N. Y.               N. Y.

    _Whatsoever is beginning that is done by human skill,
    Every daring emanation of the mind’s imperfect will;
    Every first impulse of passion, gush of love or twinge of hate;
    Every launch upon the waters, wide horizoned by our fate;
    Every venture in the chances of life’s sad, aye, desperate game;
    Whatsoever be our object, whatsoever be our aim—
                      ’Tis well we cannot see
                      What the end will be._



  _Introduction—Women of the South—Startling Proposition—First
    Appearance on any Stage—Petticoat Government—Dull, but
    necessary Details—Initiation—“Great Oaks from little Acorns
    grow”—Partnership with Jim—A First Venture—“A Rose by any
    other name,” &c.—Snubbed—His Mammy’s Soup—Dissolved Partnership
    with Jim—Explanations—Routine—Mr. Jones’ Views—“Sufficient for
    the Day,” &c.—Introduction of Hero—Introduction of Hero, The
    Whiskey Barrel—The Hero Captured—Jones’ Indignation,_              11

  _Wanted, A Dose of Grammar—Our Daily Trials—The Ishmaelite—Mrs.
    Marthy Brown’s Son—A Circular Letter—My First Proposal—
    Compliments—More flattering than agreeable—Compliments again—
    Love unto Death—The Silver Cord loosened—A Sweet Pur-ta-a-tur-r
    —Sober Ladies wanted—Delicate Sensibilities—More of them—Free
    and Equal American Servant Ladies—Sociable Spittoon—Possession
    Nine and Half Points of Law—Vi et armis—Spirit of ’63—Not “A
    Ministering Angel, thou”—Work—First Essay—Results—Where the
    Weary are at Rest—“An only Son, and my Mother a Widow,”_           30

  _Home Cares and Affections—If not my Son, then another Mother’s—
    Sacred Feelings and bad Grammar—Sad Letters—Virginians—Antagonism
    —The wicked Marylanders—Troublesome Customers—Good Wine needs no
    Bush—Annoyances—Woman’s Wit wins—The Flesh-pots of Egypt,_         60

  _Anxieties—No Hope in this World—Dead,_                              73

  _State Peculiarities and Differences—Tar-Heel Tastes—Babies even
    give up Milk—Our Little Romance—Loved and Lost,_                   76

  _The Conquering Hero comes again—The Hero again—Rats, Hopeless
    Inebriates—What Constitutes a Lady?—The Hero again,—and again—
    Military Law Declared—Five Minutes’ Grace—The Tables Turned
    —Concise, but not Clear—A Storm Brewing—Diplomatic Correspondence
    —Confusion of Tenses—How History is made—Non-intervention—Amende,_ 82

  _Sadness and Doubts—Sorrow and Privation—No Change—Educated Rats—Rat
   Surgeon—Novel Style of catching them,_                              98

  _No Personal Animosities—The Bitter Blood—A Common Sight—A
    Looking-Glass Wanted—Vaccination—Prisoners of War—Unwelcome
    Visitors—An Unexpected Gathering—Counterchecks—Checkmated—
    Unexpected and Unwelcome Visitor—What shall I do with it?—As
    Godmother—Home-Sickness,_                                         104

  _Spring Operations—Unpleasant Truths—Cast your bread upon the
    waters—Draw the Vail down—A Common Story—A Strange Experience—“We
    left him alone in his Glory”—Intense Anxiety—Saved,_              119

  _Itinerary Labors—A Rose by any other Name—Not among the
    Compliments—New Uses for the Bible—Camp Fashions—Life was so
    Sweet—Difficult Responsibilities—Failures—Erin-go-bragh—Whiskey_
    versus _Religion,_                                                127

  _My Furlough—Off—A Strong-Minded Failure—A Hard Road to Travel—
    Services not Required—Friend to the “Faymales”—A Bold Attempt—
    None but the Fair deserve the Brave—Importance of hair-pins—
    Another Attempt—Frightened at last—All’s Well that ends Well—
    Up-Country Georgia Eloquence—General Desolation—A Woman has an
    Opinion—Beaten at Last—One of our Future Presidents—Compromises,_ 137

  _Comparisons—Entire Resumption—Christmas Festivities—Discussions
    regarding the Hero—Scribbled Eggs and Flitters—Un-chewable Food,_ 156

  _Culinary Mortifications—Pickles_ versus _Homespun,_                161

  _Beginning of the End—Agitations—History—Picture of the Times—The
    Departure—Burning of the City—Last Scenes—Taking Possession—
    Entrance of the Federal Army—Occupation of the City—Amusements
    Furnished—Wicked Ingratitude—Circus and Pictorial Food—
    Distinguished Visitors—Miracles—Left “alone in my glory”—Hero
    re-appears—Noli me tangere—Victory Perches on my Banner—
    Confederate Full Dress—Casus belli—The Law of Nations—Liberty or
    Death—At Last!—The Mother of States—My Thanks—And Gratitude,_     163

  _The End,_                                                          191

[Illustration – Decorative scroll work at top of page]


                        SOUTHERN WOMAN’S STORY.


Soon after the breaking out of the Southern war, the need of hospitals,
properly organized and arranged, began to be felt, and buildings
adapted for the purpose were secured by government. Richmond, being
nearest the scene of action, took the lead in this matter, and the
formerly hastily contrived accommodations for the sick were soon
replaced by larger, more comfortable and better ventilated buildings.

The expense of keeping up small hospitals had forced itself upon the
attention of the surgeon-general, Moore, who on that account gradually
incorporated them into half-a-dozen immense establishments, strewn
around the suburbs. These were called Camp Jackson, Camp Winder,
Chimborazo Hospital, Stuart Hospital and Howard Grove; and were
arranged so that from thirty to forty wards formed a division, and
generally five divisions a hospital. Each ward accommodated from thirty
to forty patients, according to the immediate need for space. Besides
the sick wards, similar buildings were used for official purposes, for
in these immense establishments every necessary trade was carried on.
There were the carpenter’s, blacksmith’s, apothecary’s and shoemaker’s
shops; the ice houses, commissary’s and quartermaster’s departments;
and offices for surgeons, stewards, baggage-masters and clerks. Each
division was furnished with all these, and each hospital presented to
the eye the appearance of a small village.

There was no reason why, with this preparation for the wounded and
sick, that they should not have received all the benefit of good
nursing and food; but soon rumors began to circulate that there was
something wrong in hospital administration, and Congress, desirous of
remedying omissions, passed a law by which matrons were appointed.
They had no official recognition, ranking even below stewards from
a military point of view. Their pay was almost nominal from the
depreciated nature of the currency. There had been a great deal of
desultory visiting and nursing, by the women, previous to this law
taking effect, resulting in more harm than benefit to the patients; and
now that the field was open, a few, very few ladies, and a great many
inefficient and uneducated women, hardly above the laboring classes,
applied for and filled the offices.

                        _Women of the South._

The women of the South had been openly and violently rebellious from
the moment they thought their States’ rights touched. They incited the
men to struggle in support of their views, and whether right or wrong,
sustained them nobly to the end. They were the first to rebel—the
last to succumb. Taking an active part in all that came within their
sphere, and often compelled to go beyond this when the field demanded
as many soldiers as could be raised; feeling a passion of interest in
every man in the gray uniform of the Confederate service; they were
doubly anxious to give comfort and assistance to the sick and wounded.
In the course of a long and harassing war, with ports blockaded and
harvests burnt, rail tracks constantly torn up, so that supplies of
food were cut off, and sold always at exorbitant prices, no appeal was
ever made to the women of the South, individually or collectively, that
did not meet with a ready response. There was no parade of generosity;
no published lists of donations, inspected by public eyes. What was
contributed was given unostentatiously, whether a barrel of coffee or
the only half bottle of wine in the giver’s possession.

                      _Startling Proposition._

About this time one of these large hospitals was to be opened,
and the wife of the then acting secretary of war offered me the
superintendence—rather a startling proposition to a woman used to all
the comforts of luxurious life. Foremost among the Virginia women, she
had given her resources of mind and means to the sick, and her graphic
and earnest representations of the benefit a good and determined
woman’s rule could effect in such a position settled the result in
my mind. The natural idea that such a life would be injurious to
the delicacy and refinement of a lady—that her nature would become
deteriorated and her sensibilities blunted, was rather appalling. But
the first step only costs, and that was soon taken.

                  _First Appearance on any Stage._

A preliminary interview with the surgeon-in-chief gave necessary
confidence. He was energetic—capable—skillful. A man with ready oil
to pour upon troubled waters. Difficulties melted away beneath the
warmth of his ready interest, and mountains sank into mole-hills when
his quick comprehension had surmounted and leveled them. However
troublesome daily increasing annoyances became, if they could not be
removed, his few and ready words sent applicants and grumblers home
satisfied to do the best they could. Wisely he decided to have an
educated and efficient woman at the head of his hospital, and having
succeeded, never allowed himself to forget that fact.

                      _Petticoat Government._

The day after my decision was made found me at “headquarters,” the
only two-story building on hospital ground, then occupied by the
chief surgeon and his clerks. He had not yet made his appearance that
morning, and while awaiting him, many of his corps, who had expected in
horror the advent of female supervision, walked in and out, evidently
inspecting me. There was at that time a general ignorance on all
sides, except among the hospital officials, of the decided objection
on the part of the latter to the carrying out of a law which they
prognosticated would entail “petticoat government;” but there was no
mistaking the stage-whisper which reached my ears from the open door
of the office that morning, as the little contract surgeon passed out
and informed a friend he met, in a tone of ill-concealed disgust, that
“_one of them had come_.”

                   _Dull, but necessary Details._

To those not acquainted with hospital arrangements, some explanations
are necessary. To each hospital is assigned a surgeon-in-chief.
To each _division_ of the hospital, a surgeon in charge. To each
_ward_ of the division, an assistant surgeon. But when the press
of business is great, contract doctors are also put in charge of
wards. The surgeon-in-chief makes an inspection each day, calling a
board of inferior surgeons to make their report to him. The surgeon
in charge is always on the ground, goes through the wards daily,
consulting with his assistants and reforming abuses, making his
report daily to the surgeon-in-chief. The assistant surgeon has only
his one or two wards to attend, passing through them twice each day
and prescribing. In cases of danger he calls in the surgeon in charge
for advice or assistance. The contract surgeons performed the same
duties as assistant surgeons, but ranked below them, as they were not
commissioned officers and received less pay. Each ward had its corps
of nurses, unfortunately not practised or expert in their duties, as
they had been sick or wounded men, convalescing and placed in that
position,—however ignorant they might be,—till strong enough for
field duty. This arrangement bore very hard upon all interested, and
harder upon the sick, as it entailed constant supervision and endless
teaching; but the demand for men in the field was too imperative to
allow those who were fit for their duties there to be detained for
nursing purposes, however skillful they may have become.

Besides these mentioned, the hospital contained an endless horde
of stewards and their clerks; surgeons’ clerks; commissaries and
their clerks; quartermasters and clerks; apothecaries and clerks;
baggage-masters; forage-masters; wagon-masters; cooks; bakers;
carpenters; shoemakers; ward-inspectors; ambulance-drivers; and many
more; forgotten hangers-on, to whom the soldiers gave the name of
“hospital rats” in common with would-be invalids who resisted being
cured from a disinclination to field service. They were so called,
it is to be supposed, from the difficulty of getting rid of either
species. Still, many of them were physically unfit for the field.


Among these conflicting elements, all belittled at a time of general
enthusiasm by long absence from the ennobling influences of military
service, and all striving with rare exceptions to gain the small
benefits and rare comforts so scarce in the Confederacy, I was
introduced that day by the surgeon in charge. He was a cultivated,
gentlemanly man, kind-hearted when he remembered to be so, and very
much afraid of any responsibility resting upon his shoulders. No
preparations had been made by him for his female department. He
escorted me into a long, low, whitewashed building, open from end to
end, called for two benches, and then, with entire composure, as if
surrounding circumstances were most favorable, commenced an æsthetic
conversation on _belles lettres_, female influence, and the first,
last and only novel published during the war. (It was a translation of
_Joseph the Second_, printed on gray and bound in marbled wall-paper.)
A neat compliment offered at leave-taking rounded off the interview,
with a parting promise from him to send me the carpenter to make
partitions and shelves for office, parlor, laundry, pantry and kitchen.
The steward was then summoned for consultation, and my representative
reign began.

               “_Great Oaks from little Acorns grow._”

A stove was unearthed; very small, very rusty, and fit only for a
family of six. There were then about six hundred men upon the matron’s
diet list, the illest ones to be supplied with food from my kitchen,
and the convalescents from the steward’s, called, in contra-distinction
from mine, “the big kitchen.” Just then my mind could hardly grope
through the darkness that clouded it, as to what were my special
duties, but one mental spectrum always presented itself—_chicken soup_.

                       _Partnership with Jim._

Having vaguely heard of requisitions, I then and there made my first,
in very unofficial style. A polite request sent through “Jim” (a small
black boy) to the steward for a pair of chickens. They came instantly
ready dressed for cooking. Jim picked up some shavings, kindled up the
stove, begged, borrowed or stole (either act being lawful to his mind),
a large iron pot from the big kitchen. For the first time I cut up with
averted eyes a raw bird, and the Rubicon was passed.

My readers must not suppose that this picture applies generally to
all our hospitals, or that means and appliances so early in the war
for food and comfort, were so meagre. This state of affairs was only
the result of accident and some misunderstanding. The surgeon of my
hospital naturally thought I had informed myself of the power vested
in me by virtue of my position, and, having some experience, would use
the rights given me by the law passed in Congress, to arrange my own
department; and I, on reading the bill, could only understand that the
office was one that dovetailed the duties of housekeeper and cook,
nothing more.

                         _A First Venture._

In the meantime the soup was boiling, and was undeniably a success,
from the perfume it exhaled. Nature may not have intended me for a
Florence Nightingale, but a kitchen proved my worth. Frying-pans,
griddles, stew-pans and coffee-pots soon became my household gods. The
niches must have been prepared years previously, invisible to the naked
eye but still there.

Gaining courage from familiarity with my position, a venture across the
lane brought me to the nearest ward (they were all separate buildings,
it must be remembered, covering a half mile of ground in a circle, one
story high, with long, low windows opening back in a groove against the
inside wall), and, under the first I peeped in, lay the shadow of a man
extended on his bed, pale and attennuated.

What woman’s heart would not melt and make itself a home where so much

His wants were inquired into, and, like all the humbler class of men,
who think that unless they have been living on hog and hominy they are
starved, he complained of not having eaten anything “for three mortal

                  “_A Rose by any other name,” &c._

In the present state of the kitchen larder, there was certainly not
much of a choice, and I was as yet ignorant of the capabilities of the
steward’s department. However, soup was suggested, as a great soother
of “misery in his back,” and a generous supply of adjectives prefixed
for flavor—“nice, hot, good chicken soup.” The suggestion was received
kindly. If it was very nice he would take some: “he was never, though,
much of a hand for drinks.” My mind rejected the application of words,
but matter not mind, was the subject under consideration.

All my gastronomic experience revolted against soup without the sick
man’s parsley; and Jim, my acting partner, volunteered to get some at a
mysterious place he always called “The Dutchman’s,” so at last, armed
with a bowl full of the decoction, duly salted, peppered, and seasoned,
I again sought my first patient.


He rose deliberately—so deliberately that I felt sensible of the great
favor he was conferring. He smoothed his tangled locks with a weak
hand, took a piece of well-masticated tobacco from between three or
four solitary teeth, but still the soup was unappropriated, and it
appeared evident that some other preliminaries were to be arranged.
The novelty of my position, added to a lively imagination, suggested
fears that he might think it necessary to arise for compliment sake;
and hospital clothing being made to suit the scarcity and expense of
homespun, the idea was startling. But my suspense did not continue
long; he was only seeking for a brown-covered tract hid under his

Did he intend to read grace before meat? No, he simply wanted a
pocket-handkerchief, which cruel war had denied; so without comment a
leaf was quietly abstracted and used for that purpose. The result was
satisfactory, for the next moment the bowl was taken from my hand, and
the first spoonful of soup transmitted to his mouth.

It was an awful minute! My fate seemed to hang upon the fiat of that
uneducated palate. A long painful gulp, a “judgmatical” shake of the
head, _not_ in the affirmative, and the bowl traveled slowly back to my
extended hand.

                         _His Mammy’s Soup._

“My mammy’s soup was not like that,” he whined. “But I might worry a
little down if it war’n’t for them _weeds_ a-floating round.”

Well! why be depressed? There may not after all be any actual
difference between weeds and herbs.

After that first day improvements rapidly progressed. Better stoves,
and plenty of them, were put up; closets enclosed; china or its
substitutes, pottery and tin, supplied. I learned to make requisitions
and to use my power. The coffee, tea, milk, and all other luxuries
provided for the sick wards, were, through my demand, turned over to
me; also a co-laborer with Jim, that young gentleman’s disposition
proving to be like my old horse, who pulled well and steadily in single
harness, but when tried in double team, left all the hard work to the
last comer. However, honor to whom honor is due. He gave me many hints
which my higher intelligence had overlooked, comprehended by him more
through instinct than reason, and was as clever at gathering trophies
for my kitchen as Gen. Butler was—for other purposes.

                 _Dissolved Partnership with Jim._

Still my office did not rise above that of chief cook, for I dared not
leave my kitchen unattended for a moment, till Dr. M., one day, passing
the window, and seeing me seated on a low bench peeling potatoes,
appeared much surprised, and inquired where my cooks were. Explanations
followed, a copy of hospital rules were sent for, and authority found
to provide the matron’s department with suitable attendants. A gentle,
sweet-tempered lady, extremely neat and efficient, was appointed
assistant matron, also three or four cooks and bakers. Jim and his
companion were degraded into drawers of water and hewers of wood; that
is to say, these ought to have been their duties, but their occupation
became walking gentlemen. On assuming their out-door labors, their
allegiance to me ceased, and the trophies which formerly swelled my
list of dainties for the sick were nightly carried “down the hill,”
where everything that was missed disappeared.


Then began the routine of hospital life in regular order. Breakfast
at seven in the morning in summer and eight in winter. Coffee, tea,
milk, bread of various kinds, and butter or molasses, and whatever
meats could be saved from the yesterday’s dinner. This was in the first
year of the war. Afterwards we were not able to be so luxurious. The
quantity supplied would be impartially divided among the wards with the
retention of the delicacies for the very ill men.

The ward-masters with their nurses gathered three times a day, for each
meal, around my office window adjoining the kitchen, with large wooden
trays and piles of plates, waiting to receive the food, each being
helped in turn to a fair division. If an invalid craved any particular
dish the nurse mentioned the want, and if not contrary to the surgeon’s
order, it, or its nearest approximation was allowed him.


After breakfast the assistant surgeons visited their respective wards,
making out their diet lists, or rather filling them up, for the forms
were printed, and only the invalid’s name, number of his bed, and his
diet—light, half, or full, were required to be specified, also the
quantity of whiskey desired for each. Dinner and supper served in the
same way, except for the very sick. They had what they desired, in or
out of season, and all seemed to object to the nutriment concocted from
those tasteless and starchy compounds of wheat, corn and arrowroot,
that are so thick and heavy to swallow, and so little nutritious. They
were served hot from the fire, or congealed from the ice (for after
the suffering caused from the deprivation of ice the first summer of
the war was felt, each hospital built its own ice-house, which was
well filled by the next season). At two o’clock the regular dinner
of poultry, beef, ham, fish and vegetables, was distributed. (After
the first year our bill of fare decreased much in variety.) Supper at
six. The chief matron sat at her table, the diet lists arranged before
her, each day, and managed so that no especial ward should invariably
be the first served, although they were named in alphabetical order.
Any necessary instructions of the surgeons were noted and attended
to, sometimes accompanied with observations of her own, not always
complimentary to those gentlemen, nor prudent as regarded herself.

                         _Mr. Jones’ Views._

The orders ran somewhat in this fashion: “Chicken soup for twenty—beef
tea for forty—tea and toast for fifty.” A certain Mr. Jones had
expressed his abhorrence of tea and toast, so I asked the nurse why he
gave it to him.

He answered that the diet was ordered by the surgeon, but Jones said he
would not touch it, for he never ate slops, and so he had eaten nothing
for two days.

“Well, what does he wish?”

“The doctor says tea and toast” (reiterating his first remark).

“Did you tell the doctor he would not eat it?”

“_I_ told the doctor, and _he_ told the doctor.”

“Perhaps he did not hear, or understand you.”

“Yes, he did. He only said that he wanted that man particularly to have
tea and toast, though I told him Jones threw it up regularly; so he put
it down again, and said Jones was out of his head, and Jones says the
doctor is a fool.”

My remark upon this was that Jones could not be so very much out of his
head—an observation that entailed subsequent consequences. The habit
so common among physicians when dealing with uneducated people, of
insisting upon particular kinds of diet, irrespective of the patient’s
tastes, was a peculiar grievance that no complaint during four years
ever remedied.

                   “_Sufficient for the Day,” &c._

Although visiting my wards in the morning for the purpose of speaking
words of comfort to the sick, and remedying any apparent evils which
had been overlooked or forgotten by the surgeons when going their
rounds, the fear that the nourishment furnished had not suited the
tastes of men debilitated to an extreme not only by disease and wounds,
but also by the privations and exposures of camp life, would again take
me among them in the afternoon. Then would come heart-sickness and
discouragement, for out of a hundred invalids, seventy, on an average,
would assert that they had not taken any nourishment whatever. This
was partly owing to habit or imitation of others, and partly to the
human desire to enlist sympathy. The common soldier has a horror of a
hospital, and with the rejection of food comes the hope that weakness
will increase proportionally, and a furlough become necessary.

Besides, the human palate, to relish good food, must be as well
educated as other organs for other purposes. Who appreciates a good
painting until his eye is trained, or fine harmony until the ear is
cultivated?—and why should not the same rule apply to tongue and
taste? Men who never before had been sick, or swallowed those starchy,
flavorless compounds young surgeons are so fond of prescribing,
repudiated them invariably, in spite of my skill in making them
palatable. They were suspicious of the _terra incognita_ from which
they sprang, having had no experience heretofore, and suspicion always
engenders disgust.

                       _Introduction of Hero._

Daily inspection too, convinced me that great evils still existed under
my rule, in spite of my zealous care for my patients. For example, the
monthly barrel of whiskey which I was entitled to draw still remained
at the dispensary under the guardianship of the apothecary and his
clerks, and quarts and pints were issued through any order coming from
surgeons or their substitutes, so that the contents were apt to be
gone long before I was entitled to draw more, and my sick would suffer
for want of the stimulant. There were many suspicious circumstances
connected with this _institution_; for the monthly barrel was an
institution and a very important one. Indeed, if it is necessary to
have a hero for this matter-of-fact narrative the whiskey barrel will
have to step forward and make his bow.

             _Introduction of Hero—The Whiskey Barrel._

So again I referred to the hospital bill passed by Congress, which
provided that liquors in common with other luxuries, belonged to the
matron’s department, and in an evil moment, such an impulse as tempted
Pandora to open the fatal casket assailed me, and I despatched the
bill, flanked by a formal requisition for the liquor. An answer came
in the shape of the head surgeon. He declared I would find “the charge
most onerous,” that “whiskey was required at all hours, sometimes in
the middle of the night, and even if I remained at the hospital, he
would not like me to be disturbed,” “it was constantly needed for
medicinal purposes,” “he was responsible for its proper application;”
but I was not convinced, and withstood all argument and persuasion. He
was proverbially sober himself, but I was aware why both commissioned
and non-commissioned officers opposed violently the removal of the
liquor to my quarters. So, the printed law being at hand for reference,
I nailed my colors to the mast, and that evening all the liquor was in
my pantry and the key in my pocket.

                        _The Hero Captured._

The first restraints of a woman’s presence had now worn away, and the
thousand miseries of my position began to make themselves felt. The
young surgeons (not all gentlemen, although their profession should
have made them aspirants to the character), and the nurses played
into each other’s hands. If the former were off on a frolic, the
latter would conceal the absence of necessary attendance by erasing
the date of the diet list of the day before, and substituting the
proper one, duplicating the prescription also, and thus preventing
inquiry. In like manner the assistant surgeons, to whom the nurses
were alone responsible, would give them leave of absence, concealing
the fact from the head surgeon, which could easily be effected; then
the patients would suffer, and complaints from the matron be obnoxious
and troublesome, and also entirely out of her line of business.
She was to be cook and housekeeper, and nothing more. Added now to
other difficulties was the dragonship of the Hesperides,—the guarding
of the liquefied golden fruit to which access had been open to a
certain extent before her reign,—and for many, many months the petty
persecutions endured from all the small fry around almost exceeded
human patience to bear. What the surgeon in charge could do to mitigate
the annoyances entailed he conscientiously did; but with the weight of
a large hospital on his not very strong mind, and very little authority
delegated to him, he could hardly reform abuses or punish silly
attacks, so small in the abstract, so great in the aggregate.

                        _Jones’ Indignation._

The eventful evening when Mr. Jones revolted against tea and toast,
my unfortunate remark intended for no particular ear but caught by
the nurse, that the patient’s intellects could not be confused if
he called his surgeon a fool, brought forth a recriminating note to
me. It was from that maligned and incensed gentleman, and proved the
progenitor of a long series of communications of the same character;
a family likeness pervading them all. They generally commenced with
“Dr. —— presents his compliments to the chief matron,” continuing with
“Mrs. —— and I,” and ending with “you and him.” They were difficult to
understand, and more difficult to endure. Accustomed to be treated with
extreme deference and courtesy by the highest officials connected with
the government, moving in the same social grade I had always occupied
when beyond hospital bounds, the change was appalling.

                    _Wanted.—A Dose of Grammar._

The inundation of notes that followed for many months could not have
been sent back unopened, the last refuge under the circumstances, for
some of them might have related to the well-being of the sick. My pen
certainly was ready enough, but could I waste my thunderbolts in such
an atmosphere?

The depreciated currency, which purchased only at fabulous prices
by this time; the poor pay the government (feeling the necessary of
keeping up the credit of its paper) gave to its officials; the natural
craving for luxuries that had been but common food before the war,
caused appeals to be made to me, sometimes for the applicant, oftener
for his sick wife or child, so constantly, that had I given even
one-tenth of the gifts demanded there would have been but little left
for my patients.

                          _Daily Trials._

It was hard to refuse, for the plea that it was not mine but merely
a charge confided to me, was looked upon as a pretext; outsiders
calculating upon the quantity issued to my department and losing sight
of the ownership of the quantity received.

Half a dozen convalescent men would lose their tasteless dinner daily
at the steward’s table, and beg for “anything,” which would mean
turkey and oysters. Others “had been up all night and craved a cup
of coffee and a roll,” and as for diseases among commissioned and
non-commissioned men, caused by entire destitution of whiskey, and only
to be cured by it—their name was legion. Every pound of coffee, every
ounce of whiskey, bushel of flour or vegetables duly weighed before
delivery, was intended for its particular consumers; who, if they even
could not eat or drink what was issued for them watched their property
zealously, and claimed it too. So what had I to give away?

                         _The Ishmaelite._

The necessity of refusing the live-long day, forced upon naturally
generous tempers, makes them captious and uncivil, and under the
pressure the soft answer cannot be evoked to turn away wrath. Demands
would increase until they amounted to persecutions when the refusals
became the rule instead of the exception, and the breach thus made grew
wider day by day, until “my hand was against every man, and every man’s
hand against me.”

Besides, there was little gratitude felt in a hospital, and certainly
none expressed. The mass of patients were uneducated men, who had lived
by the sweat of their brow, and gratitude is an exotic plant, reared
in a refined atmosphere, kept free from coarse contact and nourished
by unselfishness. Common natures look only with surprise at great
sacrifices and cunningly avail themselves of the benefits they bestow,
but give nothing in return,—not even the satisfaction of allowing the
giver to feel that the care bestowed has been beneficial; _that_ might
entail compensation of some kind, and in their ignorance they fear the
nature of the equivalent which might be demanded.

                     _Mrs. Marthy Brown’s Son._

Still, pleasant episodes often occurred to vary disappointments and
lighten duties.

“Kin you writ me a letter?” drawled a whining voice from a bed in one
of the wards, a cold day in ’62.

The speaker was an up-country Georgian, one of the kind called
“Goubers” by the soldiers generally; lean, yellow, attennuated, with
wispy strands of hair hanging over his high, thin cheek-bones. He put
out a hand to detain me and the nails were like claws.

“Why do you not let the nurse cut your nails?”

“Because I aren’t got any spoon, and I use them instead.”

“Will you let me have your hair cut then? You can’t get well with all
that dirty hair hanging about your eyes and ears.”

“No, I can’t git my hair cut, kase as how I promised my mammy that I
would let it grow till the war be over. Oh, it’s onlucky to cut it!”

“Then I can’t write any letter for you. Do what I wish you to do, and
then I will oblige you.”

This was plain talking. The hair was cut (I left the nails for another
day), my portfolio brought, and sitting by the side of his bed I waited
for further orders. They came with a formal introduction,—“for Mrs.
Marthy Brown.”

                        _A Circular Letter._

“My dear Mammy:

“I hope this finds you well, as it leaves me well, and I hope that I
shall git a furlough Christmas, and come and see you, and I hope that
you will keep well, and all the folks be well by that time, as I hopes
to be well myself. This leaves me in good health, as I hope it finds
you and——”

But here I paused, as his mind seemed to be going round in a circle,
and asked him a few questions about his home, his position during the
last summer’s campaign, how he got sick, and where his brigade was
at that time. Thus furnished with some material to work upon, the
latter proceeded rapidly. Four sides were conscientiously filled, for
no soldier would think a letter worth sending home that showed any
blank paper. Transcribing his name, the number of his ward and proper
address, so that an answer might reach him—the composition was read to
him. Gradually his pale face brightened, a sitting posture was assumed
with difficulty (for, in spite of his determined effort in his letter
“to be well,” he was far from convalescence). As I folded and directed
it, contributed the expected five-cent stamp, and handed it to him, he
gazed cautiously around to be sure there were no listeners.

                        _My First Proposal._

“Did you writ all that?” he asked, whispering, but with great emphasis.


“Did _I_ say all that?”

“I think you did.”

A long pause of undoubted admiration—astonishment ensued. What was
working in that poor mind? Could it be that Psyche had stirred one of
the delicate plumes of her wing and touched that dormant soul?

“Are you married?” The harsh voice dropped very low.

“I am not. At least, I am a widow.”

He rose still higher in bed. He pushed away desperately the tangled
hay on his brow. A faint color fluttered over the hollow cheek, and
stretching out a long piece of bone with a talon attached, he gently
touched my arm and with constrained voice whispered mysteriously:

“You wait!”

And readers, I _am_ waiting still; and I here caution the male portion
of creation who may adore through their mental powers, to respect my
confidence, and not seek to shake my constancy.


Other compliments were paid me, perhaps not of so conclusive a nature,
and they were noticeable from their originality and novelty, but they
were also rare. Expression was not a gift among the common soldiers.
“You will wear them little feet away,” said a rough Kentuckian,
“running around so much. They ar’n’t much to boast of anyway.” Was not
this as complimentary as the lover who compared his mistress’s foot to
a dream; and much more comprehensible?

                  _More flattering than agreeable._

At intervals the lower wards, unused except in times of great need, for
they were unfurnished with any comforts, would be filled with rough
soldiers from camp, sent to recuperate after field service, who may
not have seen a female face for months; and though generally too much
occupied to notice them much, their partly concealed, but determined
regard would become embarrassing. One day, while directing arrangements
with a ward-master, my attention was attracted by the pertinacious
staring of a rough-looking Texan. He walked round and round me in
rapidly narrowing circles, examining every detail of my dress, face,
and figure; his eye never fixing upon any particular part for a moment
but traveling incessantly all over me. It seemed the wonder of the mind
at the sight of a new creation. I moved my position; he shifted his to
suit the new arrangement—again a change was made, so obviously to get
out of his range of vision, that with a delicacy of feeling that the
roughest men always treated me with, he desisted from his inspection so
far, that though his person made no movement, his neck twisted round to
accommodate his eyes, till I supposed some progenitor of his family had
been an owl. The men began to titter, and my patience became exhausted.

                        _Compliments again._

“What is the matter, my man? Did you never see a woman before?”

“Jerusalem!” he ejaculated, not making the slightest motion towards
withdrawing his determined notice, “I never did see such a nice one.
Why, you’s as pretty as a pair of red shoes with green strings.”

These were the two compliments laid upon the shrine of my vanity during
four years’ contact with thousands of patients, and I commit them to
paper to stand as a visionary portrait, to prove to my readers that
a woman with attractions similar to a pair of red shoes with green
strings must have some claim to the apple of Paris.


                         _Love unto Death._

Scenes of pathos occurred daily—scenes that wrung the heart and forced
the dew of pity from the eyes; but feeling that enervated the mind and
relaxed the body was a sentimental luxury that was not to be indulged
in. There was too much work to be done, too much active exertion
required, to allow the mental or physical powers to succumb. They were
severely taxed each day. Perhaps they balanced, and so kept each other
from sinking. There was, indeed, but little leisure to sentimentalize,
the necessity for action being ever present.

After the battle of Fredericksburg, while giving small doses of brandy
to a dying man, a low, pleasant voice, said “Madam.” It came from a
youth not over eighteen years of age, seeming very ill, but so placid,
with that earnest, far-away gaze, so common to the eyes of those who
are looking their last on this world. Does God in his mercy give a
glimpse of coming peace, past understanding, that we see reflected in
the dying eyes into which we look with such strong yearning to fathom
what they see? He shook his head in negative to all offers of food or
drink or suggestions of softer pillows and lighter covering.

“I want Perry,” was his only wish.

On inquiry I found that Perry was the friend and companion who marched
by his side in the field and slept next to him in camp, but of whose
whereabouts I was ignorant. Armed with a requisition from our surgeon,
I sought him among the sick and wounded at all the other hospitals.
I found him at Camp Jackson, put him in my ambulance, and on arrival
at my own hospital found my patient had dropped asleep. A bed was
brought and placed at his side, and Perry, only slightly wounded, laid
upon it. Just then the sick boy awoke wearily, turned over, and the
half-unconscious eye fixed itself. He must have been dreaming of the
meeting, for he still distrusted the reality. Illness had spiritualized
the youthful face; the transparent forehead, the delicate brow so
clearly defined, belonged more to heaven than earth. As he recognized
his comrade the wan and expressionless lips curved into the happiest
smile—the angel of death had brought the light of summer skies to that
pale face. “Perry,” he cried, “Perry,” and not another word, but with
one last effort he threw himself into his friend’s arms, the radiant
eyes closed, but the smile still remained—he was dead.

                    _The Silver Cord loosened._

There was but little sensibility exhibited by soldiers for the fate
of their comrades in field or hospital. The results of war are here
to-day and gone to-morrow. I stood still, spell-bound by that youthful
death-bed, when my painful revery was broken upon by a drawling voice
from a neighboring bed, which had been calling me by such peculiar
names or titles that I had been oblivious to whom they were addressed.

                     _A Sweet Pur-ta-a-tur-r._

“Look here. I say, Aunty!—Mammy!—You!” Then, in despair,
“Missus! Mauma! Kin you gim me sich a thing as a b’iled sweet
pur-r-rta-a-a-tu-ur? I b’long to the Twenty-secun’ Nor’ Ka-a-a-li-i-na
rigiment.” I told the nurse to remove his bed from proximity to his
dead neighbor, thinking that in the low state of his health from fever
the sight might affect his nerves, but he treated the suggestion with

“Don’t make no sort of difference to _me_; they dies all around _me_ in
the field—don’t trouble _me_.”

The wounded men at this time began to make serious complaints that the
liquor issued did not reach them, and no vigilance on my part appeared
to check the improper appropriation of it, or lead to any discovery of
the thieves in the wards. There were many obstacles to be surmounted
before proper precautions could be taken. Lumber was so expensive
that closets in each ward were out of the question, and if made locks
could not be purchased for any amount of money. The liquor, therefore,
when it left my quarters, was open to any passer-by in the wards
who would watch his opportunity; so, although I had strong and good
reasons for excluding female nurses, the supposition that liquor would
be no temptation to them, and would be more apt to reach its proper
destination through their care, determined me to engage them.

Unlucky thought, born in an evil hour!

                       _Sober Ladies wanted._

There were no lack of applications when the want was circulated, but
my choice hesitated between ladies of education and position, who I
knew would be willing to aid me, and the common class of respectable
servants. The latter suited best, because it was to be supposed they
would be more amenable to authority. They were engaged, and the
very sick wards divided among three of them. They were to keep the
bed-clothing in order, receive and dispense the liquor, carry any
delicacy in the way of food where it was most needed, and in fact do
anything reasonable that was requested. The last stipulation was dwelt
upon strongly. The next day my new corps were in attendance, and the
different liquors, beverages and stimulants delivered to them under the
black looks of the ward-masters. No. 1 received hers silently. She was
a cross-looking woman from North Carolina, painfully ugly, or rather
what is termed hard-featured, and apparently very taciturn; the last
quality rather an advantage. She had hardly left my kitchen when she
returned with all the drinks, and a very indignant face.

                      _Delicate Sensibilities._

In reply to inquiries made she proved her taciturnity was not chronic.
She asserted loudly that she was a decent woman, and “was not going
anywhere in a place where a man sat up on his bed in his shirt, and
the rest laughed—she knew they were laughing at her.” The good old
proverb that talking is silver but silence is gold had impressed itself
on my mind long before this, so I silently took her charge from her,
telling her that a hospital was no place for a person of her delicate
sensibilities, and at the same time holding up Miss G. and myself (who
were young enough to be her daughters), as examples for her imitation.

She answered truly that we acted as we pleased and so would she; and
that was the last I saw of her. What her ideas of hospital life were I
never inquired, and shall never know.

                          _More of them._

No. 2 came briskly forward. She was a plausible, light-haired,
light-eyed and light-complexioned Englishwoman; very petite, with
a high nose. She had come to the hospital with seven trunks, which
ought to have been a warning to me, but she brought such strong
recommendations from responsible parties that they warped my judgment.
She received the last trust handed her—an open pitcher of hot
punch—with averted head, nose turned aside, and held it at arm’s length
with a high disdain mounted upon her high nose. Her excuse for this
antipathy was that the smell of liquor was “awful,” she “could not
a-bear it,” and “it turned her witals.” This was rather suspicious, but
we deferred judgment.

              _Free and Equal American Servant Ladies._

Dinner was distributed. No. 2 appeared, composed, vigilant and
attentive to her duties, carrying her delicacies of food to her wards
with the assistance of the nurses. No. 3, an inoffensive woman did the
same, and all worked well. That afternoon, when I had retired to my
little sanctum to take the one hour’s rest that I allowed myself each
day undisturbed, Miss G. put her head in the door with an apprehensive
look and said, “the new matrons wished to see me.” They were admitted,
and my high-nosed friend, who had been elected spokeswoman it seems,
said after a few preliminaries, with a toss of her head and a couple of
sniffs that I “seemed to have made myself very comfortable.”

                        _Sociable Spittoon._

This was assented to graciously. She added that other people were
not, who were quite as much entitled to _style_. This also remained
undisputed, and then she stated her real grievance, that they “were
not satisfied, for I had not invited them to call upon me, or into
my room,” and “they considered themselves quite as much ladies as I
was.” I answered I was glad to hear it, and hoped they would always
act as ladies should, and in a way suitable to the title. There was
an evident desire on her part to say more, but she had not calculated
upon the style of reception, and therefore was thrown out beyond her
line of action, so she civilly requested me to call and inspect their
quarters that they were dissatisfied with. An hour later I did so,
and found them sitting around a sociable spittoon, with a friendly
box of snuff—dipping! I found it impossible to persuade them that
the government was alone responsible for their poor quarters, they
persisted in holding me answerable.

             _Possession Nine and Half Points of Law._

The next day, walking through one of the wards under No. 2’s charge,
I found a part of the building, of about eight to ten feet square,
portioned off, a roughly improvised plank partition dividing this
temporary room from the rest of the ward. Seated comfortably therein
was the new matron, entrenched among her trunks. A neat table and
comfortable chair, abstracted from my few kitchen appurtenances,
added to her comforts. Choice pieces of crockery, remnants of more
luxurious times, that had at one time adorned my shelves, were disposed
tastefully around, and the drinks issued by me for the patients were
conveniently placed at her elbow. She explained that she kept them
there to prevent thefts. Perhaps the nausea communicated from their
neighborhood had tinted the high nose higher, and there was a defiant
look about her, as if she sniffed the battle afar.

It was very near though, and had to be fought, however disagreeable, so
I instantly entered into explanations, short, but polite. Each patient
being allowed, by law, a certain number of feet, every inch taken
therefrom was so much ventilation lost, and the abstraction of as much
space as she had taken for illegal purposes was a serious matter, and
conflicted with the rules that governed the hospital. Besides this, no
woman was allowed to stay in the wards, for obvious reasons.

No. 2, however, was a sensible person, for she did not waste _her_
breath in talking; she merely held her position. An appeal made by me
to the surgeon of the ward did not result favorably; he said I had
engaged her, she belonged to my corps, and was under my supervision: so
I sent for the steward.

                           _Vi et Armis._

The steward of a hospital cannot define exactly what his duties are,
the difficulty being to find out what they are not. Whenever it has to
be decided who has to fill a disagreeable office, the choice invariably
falls upon the steward. So a message was sent to his quarters to
request him to compel No. 2 to evacuate her hastily improvised
premises. He hesitated long, but engaging at last the services of his
assistant, a broad-shouldered fighting character, proceeded to eject
the new tenant.

He commenced operations by polite explanations; but they were met in a
startling manner. She arose and rolled up her sleeves, advancing upon
him as he receded down the ward. The sick and wounded men roared with
laughter, cheering her on, and she remained mistress of the field.
Dinner preparations served as an interlude and silently suppressed, she
as usual made her entrée into the kitchen, received the drinks for her
ward and vanished. Half an hour elapsed and then the master of the ward
in which she had domiciled herself made his report to me, and recounted
a pitiful tale. He was a neat quiet manager, and usually kept his
quarters beautifully clean. No. 2, he said, divided the dinner, and
whenever she came across a bone in hash or stew, or indeed anything
therein displeased her, she took it in her fingers and dashed it upon
the floor. With so little to make a hospital gay, this peculiar episode
was a god-send to the soldiers, and indeed to all the lookers on. The
surgeons stood laughing, in groups, the men crowded to the windows of
the belligerent power, and a _coup-d’etat_ became necessary.

                          _Spirit of ’63._

“Send me the carpenter!” I felt the spirit of Boadicea. The man stepped
up; he had always been quiet, civil and obedient.

“Come with me into Ward E.”

A few steps took us there.

“Knock down that partition and carry away those boards.” It was _un
fait accompli_.

But the victory was not gained, only the fortifications stormed and
taken, for almost hidden by flying splinters and dust, No. 2 sat among
her seven trunks enthroned like Rome upon her seven hills.

                 _Not “A Ministering Angel, Thou.”_

The story furnishes no further interest, but the result was very
annoying. She was put into my ambulance very drunk by this time and
sent away, her trunks sent after her. The next day, neatly dressed,
she managed to get an interview with the medical director, enlisted
his sympathy by a plausible appeal and description of her desolate
condition. “A refugee,” or “refewgee,” as she called herself, “trying
to make her living decently,” and receiving an order to report at our
hospital, was back there by noon. Explanations had to be written, and
our surgeon-in-chief to interfere with his authority, before we could
get rid of her.


About this time (April, 1863), an attack on Drewry’s Bluff, which
guarded Richmond on the James river side, was expected, and it was
made before the hospital was in readiness to receive the wounded. The
cannonading could be heard distinctly in the city, and dense smoke
descried rising from the battle-field. The Richmond people had been too
often, if not through the wars at least within sight and hearing of its
terrors, to feel any great alarm.

The inhabitants lying in groups, crowded the eastern brow of the
hill above Rocketts and the James river; overlooking the scene, and
discussing the probable results of the struggle; while the change from
the dull, full boom of the cannon to the sharp rattle of musketry could
be easily distinguished. The sun was setting amidst stormy, purple
clouds; and when low upon the horizon sent long slanting rays of yellow
light from beneath them, athwart the battle scene, throwing it in
strong relief. The shells burst in the air above the fortifications at
intervals, and with the aid of glasses dark blue masses of uniforms
could be distinguished, though how near the scene of action could
not be discerned. About eight o’clock the slightly wounded began to
straggle in with a bleeding hand, or contused arm or head, bound up in
any convenient rag.

Their accounts were meagre, for men in the ranks never know anything
about general results—they almost always have the same answer ready,
“We druv ’em nowhere.”

In another half-hour, vehicles of all kinds crowded in, from a
wheelbarrow to a stretcher, and yet no orders had been sent me to
prepare for the wounded. Few surgeons had remained in the hospital;
the proximity to the field tempting them to join the ambulance
committee, or ride to the scene of action; and the officer of the day,
left in charge, naturally objected to my receiving a large body of
suffering men with no arrangements made for their comfort, and but few
in attendance. I was preparing to leave for my home at the Secretary
of the Navy, where I returned every night, when the pitiful sight of
the wounded in ambulances, furniture wagons, carts, carriages, and
every kind of vehicle that could be impressed detained me. To keep
them unattended to, while being driven from one full hospital to
another, entailed unnecessary suffering, and the agonized outcry of a
desperately wounded man to “take him in, for God’s sake, or kill him,”
decided me to countermand the order of the surgeon in charge that
“they must be taken elsewhere, as we had no accommodations prepared.”
I sent for him, however. He was a kind-hearted, indolent man, but
efficient in his profession, and a gentleman; and seeing my extreme
agitation, tried to reason with me, saying our wards were full, except
a few vacant and unused ones, which our requisitions had failed to
furnish with proper bedding and blankets. Besides, a large number of
the surgeons were absent, and the few left would not be able to attend
to all the wounds at that late hour of the night. I proposed in reply
that the convalescent men should be placed on the floor on blankets,
or bed-sacks filled with straw, and the wounded take their place, and,
purposely construing his silence into consent, gave the necessary
orders, eagerly offering my services to dress simple wounds, and
extolling the strength of my nerves.

                           _First Essay._

He let me have my way (may _his_ ways be of pleasantness and his paths
of peace), and so, giving Miss G. orders to make an unlimited supply of
coffee, tea, and stimulants, armed with lint, bandages, castile soap,
and a basin of warm water, I made my first essays in the surgical line.
I had been spectator often enough to be skillful. The first object that
needed my care was an Irishman. He was seated upon a bed with his hands
crossed, wounded in both arms by the same bullet. The blood was soon
washed away, wet lint applied, and no bones being broken, the bandages
easily arranged.

“I hope that I have not hurt you much,” I said with some trepidation.
“These are the first wounds that I ever dressed.”

“Sure they be the most illegant pair of hands that ever touched me, and
the lightest,” he gallantly answered. “And I am all right now.”


From bed to bed till long past midnight, the work continued.
Fractured limbs were bathed, washed free from blood and left to the
surgeon to set. The men were so exhausted by forced marches, lying
in entrenchments and loss of sleep that few even awoke during the
operations. If aroused to take nourishment or stimulant they received
it with closed eyes, and a speedy relapse into unconsciousness. The
next morning, but few had any recollection of the events of the night

There were not as many desperate wounds among the soldiers brought in
that night as usual. Strange to say, the ghastliness of wounds varied
much in the different battles, perhaps from the nearness or distance of
contending parties. One man was an exception and enlisted my warmest
sympathy. He was a Marylander although serving in a Virginia company.
There was such strength of resignation in his calm blue eye.

                   _Where the Weary are at Rest._

“Can you give me a moment?” he said.

“What shall I do for you?”

“Give me some drink to revive me, that I do not die before the surgeon
can attend to me.”

His pulse was strong but irregular, and telling him that a stimulant
might induce fever, and ought only to be administered with a doctor’s
prescription, I inquired where was he wounded.

Right through the body. Alas!

The doctor’s dictum was, “No hope: give him anything he asks for;” but
five days and nights I struggled against this decree, fed my patient
with my own hands, using freely from the small store of brandy in my
pantry and cheering him by words and smiles. The sixth morning on my
entrance he turned an anxious eye on my face, the hope had died out
of his, for the cold sweat stood in beads there, useless to dry, so
constantly were they renewed.

                “An only Son, and my Mother a widow.”

What comfort could I give? Only silently open the Bible, and read to
him without comment the ever-living promises of his Maker. Glimpses
too of that abode where the “weary are at rest.” Tears stole down his
cheek, but he was not comforted.

“I am an only son,” he said, “and my mother is a widow. Go to her, if
you ever get to Baltimore, and tell her that I died in what I consider
the defense of civil rights and liberties. I may be wrong. God alone
knows. Say how kindly I was nursed, and that I had all I needed. I
cannot thank you, for I have no breath, but we will meet up there.” He
pointed upward and closed his eyes, that never opened again upon this


                    _Home Cares and Affections._

Earlier than this, while hospitals were still partly unorganized,
soldiers were brought in from camp or field, and placed in divisions
of them, irrespective of rank or state; but soon the officers had more
comfortable quarters provided apart from the privates, and separate
divisions were also appropriated to men from different sections of the

There were so many good reasons for this change that explanations
are hardly necessary. Chief among them, was the ease through which,
under this arrangement, a man could be found quickly by reference
to the books of each particular division. Schedules of where the
patients of each State were quartered were published in the daily
papers, and besides the materials furnished by government, States, and
associations, were thus enabled to send satisfactory food and clothing
for private distribution. Thus immense contributions, coming weekly
from these sources, gave great aid, and enabled us to have a reserved
store when government supplies failed.

To those cognizant of these facts, it appeared as if the non-fighting
people of the Confederacy had worked as hard and exercised as much
self-denial as the soldiers in the field. There was an indescribable
pathos lurking at times at the bottom of these heterogeneous home
boxes, put up by anxious wives, mothers and sisters; a sad and
mute history shadowed forth by the sight of rude, coarse homespun
pillow-cases or pocket handkerchiefs, adorned even amid the turmoil of
war and poverty of means with an attempt at a little embroidery, or a
simple fabrication of lace for trimming.

               _If not my Son—then another Mother’s._

The silent tears dropped over these tokens will never be sung in song
or told in story. The little loving expedients to conceal the want
of means which each woman resorted to, thinking that if her loved
one failed to benefit by the result, other mothers might reap the
advantage, is a history in itself.

Piles of sheets, the cotton carded and spun in the one room at home
where the family perhaps lived, ate, and slept in the backwoods
of Georgia; bales of blankets called so by courtesy, but only the
drawing-room carpets, the pride of the heart of thrifty housewives,
perhaps their only extravagance in better days, but now cut up for
field use. Dozens of pillow slips, not of the coarse product of the
home loom, which would be too harsh for the cheek of the invalid,
but of the fine bleached cotton of better days, suggesting personal
clothing sacrificed to the sick. Boxes of woolen shirts, like Joseph’s
many-colored coat, created from almost every dressing-gown or flannel
skirt in the country.

                 _Sacred feelings and bad grammar._

A thousand evidences of the loving care and energetic labor of the
poor, patient ones at home, telling an affecting story that knocked
hard at the gates of the heart, were the portals ever so firmly closed;
and with all these came letters written by poor ignorant ones who often
had no knowledge of how such communications should be addressed.

These letters, making inquiries concerning patients from anxious
relatives at home, directed oftener to my office than my name, came
in numbers, and were queer mixtures of ignorance, bad grammar, worse
spelling and simple feeling. However absurd the style, the love that
filled them chastened and purified them. Many are stored away, and
though irresistibly ludicrous, are too sacred to print for public

In them could be detected the prejudices of the different sections.
One old lady in upper Georgia wrote a pathetic appeal for a furlough
for her son. She called me “My dear sir,” while still retaining my
feminine address, and though expressing the strongest desire for her
son’s restoration to health, entreated in moving accents that if his
life could not be saved, that he should not be buried in “Ole Virginny
_dirt_,”—rather a derogatory term to apply to the sacred soil that gave
birth to the presidents—the soil of the Old Dominion.

                           _Sad letters._

Almost all of these letters told the same sad tale of destitution of
food and clothing, even shoes of the roughest kind being either too
expensive for the mass or unattainable by the expenditure of any sum,
in many parts of the country. For the first two years of the war,
privations were lightly dwelt upon and courageously borne, but when
want and suffering pressed heavily as times grew more stringent, there
was a natural longing for the stronger heart and frame to bear part
of the burden. Desertion is a crime that meets generally with as much
contempt as cowardice, and yet how hard for the husband or father to
remain inactive in winter quarters, knowing that his wife and little
ones were literally starving at home—not even _at home_, for few homes
were left.


Our hospital had till now (the summer of 1863), been appropriated to
the Gulf States, when an order was issued to transfer and make it
entirely Virginian. The cause of this change was unknown, but highly
agreeable, for the latter were the very best class of men in the
field; intelligent, manly, and reasonable, with more civilized tastes
and some desire to conform to rules that were conducive to their
health. Besides this, they were a hardier race, and were more inclined
to live than die,—a very important taste in a hospital,—so that when
the summer campaigns were over, the wards would be comparatively empty.
The health of the army improved wonderfully after the first year’s
exposure had taught them to take proper precautions, and they had
become accustomed to the roughnesses of field life. Time was given me,
by this lightening of heretofore strenuous duties, to seek around and
investigate the mysteries of the arrangements of other hospitals beside
my own, and see how my neighbors managed their responsibilities. While
on the search for material for improvement, I found a small body of
Marylanders, who, having had no distinct refuge awarded them, were sent
wherever circumstances made it convenient to lodge them.


There had been, from the breaking out of the war, much petty criticism,
privately and publicly expressed, concerning the conduct and position
of the Marylanders who had thrown their fortunes in the Confederate
scale, and a great deal of ill-feeling engendered. Sister States have
never been amicable, but it was not until my vocation drew my attention
to the fact that I became aware of the antagonism existing. The
Virginians complained that the Marylanders had come south to install
themselves in the comfortable clerkships, and to take possession of the
lazy places, while those filling them defended their position on the
ground that efficient men were required in the departments, as well as
the field, and that their superior capacity as clerks was recognized
and rewarded without any desire, on their part, to shun field duty.
They were unfortunate, as they labored under the disadvantage of
harboring, as reputed fellow citizens, every gambler, speculator or
vagabond, who, anxious to escape military duty, managed to procure, in
some way, exemption papers proving him a native of their so-considered
neutral State. An adverse feeling towards them, report said,
extended even to the hospitals through which they were scattered,
and I endeavored long, but unsuccessfully, to induce Dr. Moore (the
Confederate surgeon-general), to inaugurate some building for their
use. He was averse to any arrangement of this kind, not from prejudice,
but a conviction of the expense and trouble of small establishments of
this nature.

Not succeeding I made a personal application to the surgeon-in-chief of
my own establishment, to allow me to appropriate a certain number of my
own wards to them, and with the ready courtesy he always accorded me,
he immediately gave consent.

                      _The wicked Marylanders._

In the decided objections of surgeons generally to taking charge of
Marylanders there was an element more amusing than offensive, and the
dismay of the head of our hospital when he heard of my arrangements was
ludicrous in the extreme, and our opinions hardly reconcilable from our
different standpoints. To a woman there was a touch of romance in the
self-denial exercised, the bravery displayed and the hardships endured
by a body of men, who were fighting for what was to them an abstract
question, as far as they were concerned.

No one with any reasoning powers could suppose that Maryland in event
of success could ever become a sister State of the confederacy.
Then the majority of them were very young men, who, well born, well
nurtured and wealthy, accustomed too to all the luxuries of life,
served then, and even to the end as privates, when less deserving men
who had commenced their career in the ranks had made interest and
risen, as much through political favor as personal bravery. Luxuries
received from other States for their soldiers, which though trifling
in themselves were so gratifying to their recipients could not come
to them; the furlough, that El Dorado to the sick soldier, was the
gold which could not be grasped, for there was no home that could be
reached. Even letters, those electric conductors from heart to heart,
came sparingly after long detention, often telling of the loss of the
beloved at home, months after the grave had closed upon them.

                      _Troublesome Customers._

In antagonism to these ideas were the strong objections of our head
surgeon to this arrangement of mine, and they too were reasonable. The
fact of there being an unusual amount of intelligence and independence
among these men made them more difficult to manage, as they were less
submissive to orders. They were aware of how much they were entitled
to, in food, surgical and medical attendance and general comfort; and
were not afraid to speak loudly and openly of neglect towards them or
of incapacity in their rulers, so that whether ragged, helpless or sick
they bore a striking resemblance to Hans Andersen’s leather soldier.
That historical personage, though lame in the leg, minus an arm and
eye, with a mashed head, all the gilt rubbed off of his back and lying
in a gutter, held his own opinion and gave it on all occasions. The
result of this was that there existed a pretty general objection to
them as patients, as they were, to say the least, awkward customers. I
might whisper an aside very low and confidential of sick men who should
have followed the good old wholesome rule of “early to bed and early to
rise” taking their physic obediently in the morning, but disappearing
at night,—“dew in the morning and mist at night,”—and I might also
tell of passes altered and furloughs lengthened when there was no
fighting going on, all very wicked, but certainly nothing unmanly or
dishonorable. They never lingered around when honor called, and their
record needs no additional tribute from my humble pen. When sectional
feelings shall have died away and a fair narration of the Confederate
struggle be written, they will find their laurel leaves fresh and green.

                     _Good Wine needs no Bush._

But to return to domestic details. My new wards were prepared, freshly
whitewashed, and adorned with cedar boughs for the reception of the old
line Maryland cavalry, and during their sojourn I experienced to its
fullest extent the pleasure of ministering to the wants of grateful and
satisfied soldiers. They brightened a short interval of laborious and
harassing labors that lasted over four years, and left a sunny spot
for memory to dwell on. After their departure many more of their State
came, generally infantry, and difficulties still continued. It was
impossible to give them their due share of attention, so great was the
feeling of jealousy existing. If an invalid required special attention,
and he proved to be a Marylander, though perhaps ignorant myself of
the fact, many eyes watched me, and complaints were made to the nurses,
and from them to the surgeons, till a report of partiality to them on
my part made to the surgeon-in-chief, called forth a remonstrance on
his part, and a request that all patients should be treated alike.
Then came an unpleasant season of bickering and dissatisfaction, so
that fearing I might be to blame in part, I studiously at last avoided
inquiring to what corps a man belonged.


A courier of General A. P. Hill’s, very badly wounded, had been
invalided for some time, and desirous of offering him some inducement
to bear his fate more patiently, I had invited him to dine in my
office, as soon as he could use his crutches. An invitation of this
kind was often extended to men similarly situated; not that there were
delicacies retained in my kitchen that did not reach the wards, but the
request was a courtesy, and the food would be hot from the fire, and
more comfortably served. Unfortunately he was a Marylander, and that
some adverse report had been made was proved by an order attached to my
window during the day, explaining that no patient would be permitted
to enter the matron’s department under any circumstances, on penalty
of punishment. This was uncalled-for and galling, so I pulled it down
first, and then carried my complaint to the surgeon-in-chief.

                         _Woman’s wit wins._

No one ever applied to him in vain for either justice or courtesy.
He naturally was unwilling to countermand this order positively, but
told me significantly that although the hospital was to a certain
extent under the control of the surgeon in charge, and subject to his
orders, the private rooms, as well as kitchen and laundry attached
to the matron’s department were under my management. As a woman will
naturally sacrifice her comfort, convenience, pleasure, and privacy to
have her own way, the result must be evident. My sleeping-room became
a dining-room, and for the future I made what use of it I pleased,
returning every night to my quarters at the Secretary’s.

                     _The Flesh-Pots of Egypt._

The next annoyance was the disappearance of all the Maryland patients;
their wards being found empty one morning, and “no man living could
tell where they had gone.” However, when the flesh-pots of the
forsaken land were steaming at dinner-time, a small group revealed
themselves of the missing tribes, and clustered around my window with
cup and plate. They belonged to the infantry, and seemed unable to
bear their exile. This continued for a couple of days, the applicants
increasing at each meal, till a second visit to Dr. M. with a
representation of the impossibility of feeding men for whom no rations
had been drawn brought about a rescinding of the order for their exile,
and from that time they and all of their corps who came to me were



Feminine sympathy being much more demonstrative than masculine,
particularly when compared with a surgeon’s unresponsiveness, who
inured to the aspects of suffering, has more control over his
professional feelings, the nurses often summoned me when only the
surgeon was needed. One very cold night the same year, 1863, when
sleeping at my hospital rooms, an answer was made to my demand as to
who was knocking and what was wanted. The nurse from the nearest ward
said, something was wrong with Fisher. Instructing him to find the
doctor immediately and hastily getting on some clothing I hurried to
the scene, for Fisher was an especial favorite. He was quite a young
man, of about twenty years of age, who had been wounded ten months
previously very severely, high up on the leg near the hip, and who
by dint of hard nursing, good food and plenty of stimulant had been
given a fair chance for recovery. The bones of the broken leg had
slipped together, then lapped, and nature anxious as she always is to
help herself had thrown a ligature across, uniting the severed parts;
but after some time the side curved out, and the wounded leg was many
inches shorter than its fellow. He had been the object of sedulous
care on the part of all—surgeons, ward-master, nurse and matron, and
the last effort made to assist him was by the construction of an
open cylinder of pasteboard, made in my kitchen, of many sheets of
coarse brown paper, cemented together with very stiff paste, and baked
around the stove-pipe. This was to clasp by its own prepared curve
the deformed hip, and be a support for it when he was able to use his

                      _No Hope in this World._

He had remained through all his trials, stout, fresh and hearty,
interesting in appearance, and so gentle-mannered and uncomplaining
that we all loved him. Supported on his crutches he had walked up and
down his ward for the first time since he was wounded, and seemed
almost restored. That same night he turned over and uttered an
exclamation of pain.

Following the nurse to his bed, and turning down the covering, a small
jet of blood spurted up. The sharp edge of the splintered bone must
have severed an artery. I instantly put my finger on the little orifice
and awaited the surgeon. He soon came—took a long look and shook his
head. The explanation was easy; the artery was imbedded in the fleshy
part of the thigh and could not be taken up. No earthly power could
save him.

There was no object in detaining Dr. ——. He required his time and his
strength, and long I sat by the boy, unconscious himself that any
serious trouble was apprehended. The hardest trial of my duty was laid
upon me; the necessity of telling a man in the prime of life, and
fullness of strength that there was no hope for him.


It was done at last, and the verdict received patiently and
courageously, some directions given by which his mother would be
informed of his death, and then he turned his questioning eyes upon my

“How long can I live?”

“Only as long as I keep my finger upon this artery.” A pause ensued.
God alone knew what thoughts hurried through that heart and brain,
called so unexpectedly from all earthly hopes and ties. He broke the
silence at last.

“You can let go—”

But I could not. Not if my own life had trembled in the balance. Hot
tears rushed to my eyes, a surging sound to my ears, and a deathly
coldness to my lips. The pang of obeying him was spared me, and for
the first and last time during the trials that surrounded me for four
years, I fainted away.


               _State Peculiarities and Differences._

No words can do justice to the uncomplaining nature of the Southern
soldier. Whether it arose from resignation or merely passive
submission, yet when shown in the aggregate in a hospital, it was
sublime. Day after day, whether lying wasted by disease or burning up
with fever, torn with wounds or sinking from debility, a groan was
seldom heard. The wounded wards would be noisily gay with singing,
laughing, fighting battles o’er and o’er again, and playfully chaffing
each other by decrying the troops from different States, each man
applauding his own. When listening to them one would suppose that the
whole Southern army with the exception of a few companies from the
speaker’s section of country, were cowards. The up-country soldiers,
born in the same States as those they derided, went even further
and decried “them fellows from the seaboard, who let us do all the
fighting.” The Georgians would romance of how the South Carolinians
laid down at such a battle, refusing to charge, and how they had to
“charge right over them.” The Mississippians of the backwardness of the
Tennessee troops, who “would never go into action unless led by their
commanding general.” The Virginians told bitter stories of the rowdyism
of the Maryland volunteers, who were “always spreeing it in the city,
and dancing attendance on the women,” and the North Carolinians caught
it on all sides, though their record is undoubtedly a most gallant one.

                         _Tar-Heel Tastes._

Taken in the mass, the last were certainly most forlorn specimens,
and their drawl was insufferable. Besides, they never under any
circumstances would give me the satisfaction of hearing that they
relished or even ate any food that was issued from my kitchen. “Say,
can I have some sweet soup?” whined a voice from one bed, and “Look
here, can I have some sour soup?” came from another. The sweet soup
upon explanation proved to be stirred custard; the sour a mystery until
the receipt was given. “You jist put a crock of buttermilk on the fire,
and let it come to a bile; then mix up the yaller of an egg with some
corn flour to make a paste; then punch off pieces of the dough, and
bile them with the soup; with lots of pepper and salt.” The buttermilk
when so tested by heat resolved itself into a sea of whey with a hard
ball of curds in the center. I carried the saucepan to his bedside to
show the results of his culinary directions; but he merely shook his
head and remarked carelessly that “his mammy’s soup did not look like

                    _Babies even give up Milk._

Many would not eat unless furnished with food to which they had been
accustomed at home, and as unreasoning as brutes resisted nutriment
and thus became weaker day after day; and whatever was new to the eye
or palate was received suspiciously. Liquids in the form of soups,
tea or coffee they turned from with disgust, so that the ordinary
diet of invalids was inefficient in their case. Buttermilk seemed
especially created by nature for wounded patients; they craved it with
a drunkard’s thirst, and great, strong men have turned away from all
else and implored a drink of sweet milk. We had a very short supply of
this towards the end of the war, and I remember a stalwart Kentuckian,
one of Morgan’s men, insisting upon the rare luxury of one cupfull. He
had been for many months on a raid far out of Confederate limits, and
returning slightly wounded, had no idea of the scarcity of forage that
made our cows so dry. His pleading became really affecting, till at
last rallying, I told him: “Why man! the very babies of the Confederacy
have given up drinking milk, and here are you, six feet two, crying
for it.”

                       _Our Little Romance._

Little poetical effusions were often thrust under my cabin door,
and also notes of all kinds from my patients. Among them one day
was a well-written and worded request from a young man who had been
indisposed with that most hateful of all annoyances to soldiers—the
itch; that shirt of Nessus, which when once attached to the person
clings there pertinaciously. It begged me when at leisure to give him
an interview, telling me his ward, name, and bed. He proved to be
educated, and a gentleman from the upper part of Alabama, which had
been colonized by the best class of South Carolinians; and he wished
to enlist any influence I might possess in his favor, to endeavor to
get him a furlough. His story was interesting. Engaged to a young
girl, the preparations made, the ring even bought (he wore it next his
heart), and the marriage day fixed, they heard the first rumors of war,
and patriotism urging him to enlist, the parents of his sweetheart
naturally refused to allow him to consummate the engagement until peace
was restored. The desire to see her again became almost unbearable,
and feeling sincere sympathy with him, and the hardship of the case,
I tried but in vain to have him furloughed. The campaign of 1864 had
opened and every man was needed in the field.

                         _Loved and Lost._

The finale of my story is a sad one, as are almost all stories in time
of war. He was killed while repelling with his brigade the attack on
Petersburg, and the little history confided to me resolved itself into
a romance one night, that found shape and form:

                   “ICH HABE GELEBT UND GELIEBT.”

          The bride’s robe is ready, the bridesmaids are bid,
          The groom clasps the circlet, so cautiously hid;
          For a home is now waiting a mistress to claim
          A lover, a wife, for his house, heart and name.
          There is peace in the homestead and mirth in the hall—
          The steed idly stands at his rack in the stall,
          The whole land is teeming with prosperous life,
          For lost are all memories of carnage and strife.
          With rich golden harvest the ripe hills are blest,
          And God’s providence stands revealed and confessed.

                  *       *       *       *       *

          No priest blessed that union, no ring wed that hand;
          With anger and discord soon rang the whole land;
          Through all its wide domains the dread tidings rang
          Of bloodshed. The lover was first in the van.
          “My own one! I leave thee, those dear arms unfold.
          Wouldst wed with the timid—the doubtful—the cold?
          No union could bless till our country be free,
          So onward for liberty, glory—and thee!”

                  *       *       *       *       *

          Right bravely fought he till sunlight lying low
          Discovered a field that had left him no foe;
          But when in the flush of a victory gained,
          Deep in dreams of his love—his honor unstained,
          He wended his way to the home of his heart
          From her side ne’er to swerve, from her love ne’er to part,
          Hast’ning on with his tidings he knew she would prize—
          His heart on his lips and his soul in his eyes;
          Laid low by a shot courage could not repel
          At the feet of a mightier victor—he fell!
          And the bride that he left? What needs it to say
          Her doom was a woman’s,—to watch, wait and pray.
          The heat of the struggle nerves man for the strife,
          But bitter at home is her battle of life,
          When far from the conflict, unheeded, alone,
          Her brain in a flame, but her heart like a stone,
          She patiently waits to hear _one_ life is won,
          Or silently prays to say—_His_ will be done!


                 _The Conquering Hero comes again._

The whiskey barrel, as I have said before, and suppose I shall often
say again, had been a bone of contention from the beginning, and as it
afterward proved, continued so to the end. Liquor commanded an enormous
price in Dixie, and often if its lovers had the means to procure it,
the opportunity was wanting, as the hospital was some distance from
Richmond. When first installed in my office, the desire to conciliate,
and the belief that men generally had some conscience even on the
whiskey question led me to yield to urgent solicitations for it from
many quarters; but the demands increased fearfully upon any concession.
A reference to Dr. M. about this matter settled the heretofore open
question. The doctor said the liquor was intended exclusively for
the use of patients, and should only be used through a prescription
accompanied by a written order. Also that I was personally responsible
for the quantity confided to my care, and must each month produce the
surgeon’s receipts to balance with the number of gallons drawn from the
medical purveyor. There were at different times half a dozen surgeons
and officials around, who absolutely made my life wretched by their
importunities, and yet who could not be sent away except by preferring
charges against them, and proving those charges; for my hospital was a
military organization. I did not feel inclined to brave the publicity
of preferred charges, for I seemed to have no recognized rank, and if
even I could prove them, the complaints made would be ludicrously
petty in detail, though distracting as mosquito bites in the aggregate.

                    _Rats—Hopeless Inebriates._

The modes adopted to outflank me were named “legion.” Some of them
can be recalled. A quart bottle of whiskey would be ordered by the
officer of the day for each ward, for night use, so that it would be
ready at hand should any of the patients need this stimulant during the
night. The next morning, on inquiry being made, there had been no case
requiring its use, but the bottles would be empty, and expostulation
on my part be met with explanations that the rats (who were a very
plague), had knocked all the bottles over. On refusing to honor any
more demands of the same kind, not believing in the rat story, the
surgeon in charge would be appealed to, hear all sides, and favor none.
This was just what I anticipated and wanted, for having, for the first
few months of my occupation, lived in a state of active terror for
fear of violating rules, however injurious the results of obeying, I
recompensed myself from that time till the end of my sojourn by acting
exactly as I thought right, braving the consequences, and preferring
to be attacked to attacking.

                     _What Constitutes a Lady?_

One mode of annoying me was particularly offensive—sending a negro boy
with a cup and a simple request for whiskey, as if it was the most
natural act in the world. At first a polite refusal would be written,
but if this mode should have been persevered in, a private secretary
would have been necessary; so in time it was replaced by a curt “No.”
A few minutes later the boy would again stand before me with the
same message, and this would occur half a dozen times consecutively.
I did not believe in vicarious punishment, so could not make the
messenger responsible—he was compelled to obey; and sometimes, stung
to irritation by this senseless pertinacity, I would write a note to
the offending party, brief but sharp. The reply would be the same silly
question I so often had to meet: “Did Mrs. —— consider herself a lady
when she wrote such notes?” “No,” was always the indignant answer.
“How could she be, when brought into contact with such elements?” It
was strange, with so little outward self-assertion, always dressed in
Georgia homespun, often the worse for wear, leather shoes, worsted
gloves, and half the time with a skillet or coffee-pot in my hands,
that all the common element around me should contest my right to a
title to which I never aspired in words.

This fact, which must have been patent to them from the active
persecution it entailed, seemed to be a crying grievance. My life at
my hospital quarters when relieved from care for the patients was
exclusive, from habit, inclination and prudence. Living a great part of
my time away from all intercourse with my own sex, in a solitude that
was unbroken after dark, it was better that no intimacies should be
formed and no preferences shown; and in an exposed position where Argus
eyes were always watching, a woman could not be too careful.

                          _The Hero again._

But still the wars of the whiskey barrel continued. One day the men
of one of the distant wards sent for me in the absence of their
ward-master, and complained that the liquor issued for them never
reached them. All concurred in this report, and said the champagne
bottles in which it was kept were hid behind a certain vacant bed,
from whence they would be abstracted that night. A search on
my part brought them to light, still full, although the hour of
administering had long past. The ward-master was summoned, the full
bottles exhibited, and expressing my surprise at the inhumanity and
dishonesty of one I had heretofore thought so honest, I warned him of
the consequences that would result to him. His protestations were so
earnest that he never tasted liquor, that I could not disbelieve him.
What then had “become of the quantity issued, had he sold it?”

The charge was met by indignant surprise, and then the truth began to
dawn upon me. That he had been false to his charge and his patients was
true, if even he had not been guilty of taking it, and I warned him
that on my representing the matter to the proper authorities he would
be sent to the field. An hour after this conversation the surgeon of
his ward entered my office with belligerent aspect.

                      _Military Law Declared._

“Did you assert, Madam, that you intended sending my ward-master to the

“I said I intended laying the facts concerning the disappearance of
the liquor before the proper authorities.”

“I consider myself responsible, Madam, for the liquor used in my wards.”

“If you do, you fail to be sure that it reaches its destination, so I
intend in future to see that it does.”

“If you mean that my ward-master drinks it, you are mistaken; he does
not take any stimulant.”

“I know he does not,” I answered quietly, “and I also know who does.”

He changed color, and passing him I walked into my little sanctum
adjoining the office. To my astonishment he kicked back the door and
also entered.

“Doctor, this is my private room,” I said, “to which no one is
admitted. Be kind enough to leave.”

“Not until you explain,” he answered, throwing himself at full length
upon the couch.

This was just far enough for him to venture. I threw back my window,
and called to the sentry to order up a sergeant and file of the guard.
In a few minutes the ring of their muskets outside sounded, and taking
out my watch, I placed it on the table by him.

                       _Five Minutes’ Grace._

“I will give you five minutes,” I said, “to leave my room. If you are
not gone by that time, commissioned officer as you are, and gentleman
as you ought to be, I will have you taken to the guard-house, and then
explain this matter to the surgeon-general.”

He waited a minute or two, soliloquizing audibly that I must fancy
myself the Secretary of War, and he would make me know my position, but
soon made up his mind that discretion was the better part of valor, and
left. Proper measures were no doubt taken to punish such conduct, for
though I made no complaint, there were no secrets in a hospital, and
after a few weeks he disappeared, sent no doubt to that Botany Bay—“the
front.” He took a gallant leave of his associates, hinting that his
talents demanded a wider field of action than a hospital.

But the tables were about to be turned. Not forever would I be allowed
to carry war into the enemy’s country, or be the sole defender of
that friend by whom I had stood so gallantly. The whiskey barrel was
destined after all to be turned into a weapon of offense.

                        _The Tables Turned._

The bold man who thus declared hostilities, and by a _coup-de-guerre_
changed the whole nature of the war from offensive to defensive
tactics, had been bar-keeper in a Georgia tavern, afterwards a clerk in
a Macon dispensary, in order to escape field duty. Coming to Richmond
he passed the board of surgeons by a process known only to themselves,
which often rejected good practitioners, and gave appointments to
apothecary boys.

Fate sent him to our hospital, where the brilliant idea struck him to
check thefts of whiskey in the feminine department. He inaugurated his
plans by ordering a pint of it for a single patient.

The etiquette of a hospital enjoins that no one but the chief surgeon
shall dispute an inferior surgeon’s prescription, so I carried this
generous order to the chief, received his instructions not to exceed
the usual “from two to four ounces” without being served with a formal
requisition signed by the surgeon in charge, and so I wrote this
gentleman (a contract surgeon) a few lines, courteously explanatory
of my reasons for so cutting him down. This matter being arranged,
I forgot all about it, but the next day the blow was struck; the
following note being handed to me:

                                  “HOSPITAL, Richmond, April 3, 1864.

    “The Chief Matron:—Is respectfully asked to state the amount of water
  used as compared with amount of whiskey in making toddy. Also if
  strength of toddy has been uniform since January 1st, 1863. Also if
  any change has taken place in diluting within the same period. She
  will also state what the change has been; also when made, and by whose
                           “——— ———,
                    “Assistant Surgeon in charge.”

                     _Concise, but not Clear._

These questions, if even he had any right to ask them (which he had
not), were simply absurd. With hundreds of men requiring different
drinks many times each day, ordered by numerous surgeons, prepared to
suit different stages of disease and palate, no hour bringing the same
orders, how could any kind of a correct statement be made, even if I
was willing to make it? But there was a great deal of amusement in the
idea of letting him suppose he had alarmed me. Perhaps, as the day was
very wet, and the wards rather empty, we might enact a small comedy; so
I sat down and answered in full, respectfully, feeling very charitably
that he was welcome to all the information he could extract from the
five closely-written sheets of foolscap I despatched him.

                         _A Storm Brewing._

In this document, polite, officially formal and as officially obscure,
I thought I had succeeded in showing my correspondent that his
questions could not be answered satisfactorily, but that I was much
alarmed at his asking them. That I did not succeed in regard to his
first inquiry was proved by the following, which came after an hour’s

                                          “HOSPITAL, April 3rd, 1864.

    “Chief Matron:—Is respectfully called upon to state what amount of
  whiskey has been given to each patient when amount has not been stated
  or expressed by surgeon, or assistant surgeon, upon the rolls, but
  instead ‘whiskey three times a day,’ and shown upon the rolls which
  _I_ send _you_.
                           “——— ———,
                    “Assistant Surgeon in charge.”

                    _Diplomatic Correspondence._

No solemn pages greeted him in answer this time. My rejoinder was
concise and to the point.

                                          “HOSPITAL, April 3rd, 1864.

    “The Chief Matron regrets that she is too busily engaged to give any
  more voluminous explanations, being at this moment up to her elbows in

Then the sleeping lion was roused, for almost instantly the reply was
brought me, and an alarming finale it was.

                                          “HOSPITAL, April 3rd, 1864.

    “Chief Matron: Is hereby informed that if she willfully and
  contumaciously refuses to give me such information as I demand, and
  she is possessed of, thereby obstructing the duty I feel myself called
  upon to perform, she must be prepared to _meet_ the responsibility
  upon _your own shoulders_.
                                   “——— ———,
                            “Assistant Surgeon in charge.”

                       _Confusion of Tenses._

A serious but sharp rejoinder sent to this gentleman, trying to show
him that he had no authority to propound these questions, closed
this paper war; and I had forgotten all about the matter, when the
correspondence was forwarded me, folded in official style, and indorsed
at the surgeon-general’s office on the back “Referred respectfully to
the surgeon-in-chief —— Hospital,” through whose hands alone official
etiquette required all reports should pass to heads of departments.
He had courteously sent it to me, and I as courteously sent it to the
forwarder. Seeing that he had failed to interest the surgeon-general
in the case, he drew up a statement of the affair, accusing me of
disrespect (based upon the gingerbread letter particularly) to my
_superior officer_, sending it accompanied by all the obnoxious notes
to the office of the military governor of the department of Henrico,
who I heard read it all with some amazement—if not interest.

                       _How History is made._

Back, however, it came shortly again without response, and by this
time some of the waggish surgeons having been made confidants in the
matter, persuaded my disappointed friend to try the secretary of war;
and at one of the charming breakfasts which his wife was in the habit
of giving, I saw him with a smile draw from his pocket a package I knew
well by that time, and made my escape just in time to avoid hearing it
all over again. As I mounted the ambulance in waiting to take me to my
hospital, I heard the peals of laughter that greeted the reading of
those unlucky documents.

My acquaintance with my correspondent was never renewed. He kept out
of my way. The only time I ever saw him again was the day he left and
I viewed his pantaloons of Georgia clay embrowning the landscape adown
the hill.


A better educated class of surgeons was sent to fill fortunate
vacancies, and this change made my duties more agreeable. There would
have been nothing disagreeable in the occupation I had assumed if a
proper discretion had been exercised, or proper rules enforced, so
that no demands should have been made upon the matron for that which
she had no right to give. These demands were the beginning and end of
my troubles; for in all else except complying with them I tried hard
not to exceed the duties of my position, and succeeded so well that
no temptation could induce me to interfere in any way with medical
treatment, not even to offering the slightest alleviation to suffering
men. During my early initiation, when quite a novice, yielding to
a poor fellow’s prayer for something to wash a mouth frightfully
excoriated by calomel I gave him a few drops of myrrh in water, I
suffered the annoyance of seeing it contemptuously tossed out of the
window by the assistant surgeon. From that day I made up my mind to
resist all such impulses and persevered in the same line of conduct to
the end.


But antagonism was not always the rule. There were many sensible,
kind-hearted, efficient men among the surgeons who gave their time
and talents generously to further the comfort and well-being of their
patients,—men who would let me work hand in hand with them, the nurse
with the doctor, and listen kindly and respectfully to my suggestions,
if they were not calculated to benefit science. As I have said, the
chief surgeon was an unfailing refuge in times of distress, and
whenever broken down by fatigue and small miseries I sought his advice
and assistance, the first was not only the very best that could be
secured, but unlike most of its kind, palatable; and the last entirely
efficient. The surgeon too of my hospital though eccentric and wanting
in decision of character, sustained my authority during sore trials as
ably as he could; for the power delegated to him was not great, and his
dread of responsibility a disease. He never intended to be unjust or
unkind, but self-examination and investigation of characters around him
was not his forte. He certainly withstood a vast amount of complaint
directed against his chief matron; and while we had our pleasant little
difficulties occasionally, that we still preserved amicable relations
was due more to his amiable temper than my proper submission. I _think_
he had many faults, but I am sure I had more, and if the popular remark
which has since become a maxim, that a man must be very clever to
“keep a hotel” be true, it certainly ought to apply to one who can
govern a hospital.


                       _Sadness and Doubts._

Now during the summer of 1864 began what is really meant by “war,”
for privations had to be endured which tried body and soul, and which
temper and patience had to meet unflinchingly day and night. A growing
want of confidence was forced upon the mind; and with doubts which
though unexpressed were felt as to the ultimate success of our cause,
there came into play the antagonistic qualities of human nature.

                      _Sorrow and Privation._

The money worthless, and a weak Congress and weaker financier failing
to make it much more valuable than the paper it was printed on; the
former refusing to the last to raise the hospital fund to meet the
depreciation. Everything furnished through government contracts of the
very poorest description, perhaps necessarily so from the difficulty of
finding any supply.

The railroads constantly cut so that what had been carefully collected
in the country in the form of poultry and vegetables by hospital agents
would be rendered unfit for use by the time the connection would be
restored. The inducements for theft in this season of scarcity of
food and clothing. The pathetic appeals made for the coarsest meal by
starving men, all wore upon the health and strength of those exposed
to the strain, and made life weary and hopeless. The rations became
so small about this time that every ounce of flour was valuable, and
there were days when it was necessary to refuse with aching heart and
brimming eyes the request of decent, manly-looking fellows for a piece
of dry corn-bread. If given it would have robbed the rightful owner
of part of his scanty rations. After the flour or meal had been made
into bread, it was almost ludicrous to see with what painful solicitude
Miss G. and myself would count the rolls, or hold a council over the
pans of corn-bread, measuring with a string how large we could afford
to cut the squares, to be apportioned to a certain number. Sometimes
when from the causes above stated, the supplies were not issued as
usual, invention had to be taxed to an extreme, and every available
article in our pantry brought into requisition. We had constantly to
fall back upon dried apples and rice for convalescing appetites, and
herb-tea and arrowroot for the very ill. There was only one way of
making the last at all palatable, and that was by drenching it with
whiskey. Long abstinence in the field from everything that could be
considered, even then, a delicacy, had exaggerated the fancy of sick
men for any particular article of food they wanted into a passion; and
they begged for such peculiar dishes that surgeons and nurses might
well be puzzled. The greatest difficulty in granting these desires was
that tastes became contagious, and whatever one patient asked for,
his neighbor and the one next to him, and so on throughout the wards,
craved also, and it was impossible to decide upon whom to draw a check.

                            _No Change._

No one unacquainted with our domestic relations can appreciate the
difficulties under which we labored. Stoves in any degree of newness
or usefulness we did not have; they were rare and expensive luxuries.
As may be supposed, they were not the most convenient articles in the
world to pack away in blockade-running vessels; and the trouble and
expense of land transportation also seriously affected the quality
of the wood for fuel, furnished us. Timber which had been condemned
heretofore as unfit for use, light, soggy and decayed, became the only
quality available. The bacon too, cured the first two years of the
war, when salt commanded an enormous price, in most cases was spoilt,
from the economy used in preparing that article; and bacon was one of
the sinews of war. We kept up brave hearts, and said we could eat the
simplest fare, and wear the coarsest clothing, but there was absolutely
nothing to be bought that did not rank as a luxury. It was wasting time
and brain to attempt to economize, so we bent to the full force of
that wise precept, “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” There
really was a great deal of heroism displayed when looking back, at the
calm courage with which I learned to count the number of mouths to be
fed daily, and then contemplating the food, calculate not how much
but how little each man could be satisfied with. War may be glorious
in all its panoply and pride, when in the field opposing armies meet
and strive for victory; but battles fought by starving the sick and
wounded—by crushing in by main force day by day all the necessities of
human nature, make victories hardly worth the name.

                          _Educated Rats._

Another of my local troubles were the rats, who felt the times, and
waxed strong and cunning, defying all attempts to entrap them, and
skillfully levying blackmail upon us day by day, and night after
night. Hunger had educated their minds and sharpened their reasoning
faculties. Other vermin, the change of seasons would rid us of, but
the coldest day in winter, and the hottest in summer, made no apparent
difference in their vivacious strategy. They examined traps with the
air of connoisseurs, sometimes springing them from a safe position,
and kicked over the bread spread with butter and strychnine to show
their contempt for such underhand warfare. The men related wonderful
rat-stories not well enough authenticated to put on record, but their
gourmands ate all the poultices applied during the night to the sick,
and dragged away the pads stuffed with bran from under the arms and
legs of the wounded.

                           _Rat Surgeon._

They even performed a surgical operation which would have entitled any
of them to pass the board. A Virginian had been wounded in the very
center of the instep of his left foot. The hole made was large, and
the wound sloughed fearfully around a great lump of proud flesh which
had formed in the center like an island. The surgeons feared to remove
this mass, as it might be connected with the nerves of the foot, and
lock-jaw might ensue. Poor Patterson would sit on his bed all day
gazing at his lame foot and bathing it with a rueful face, which had
brightened amazingly one morning when I paid him a visit. He exhibited
it with great glee, the little island gone, and a deep hollow left, but
the wound washed clean and looking healthy. Some skillful rat surgeon
had done him this good service while in the search for luxuries, and
he only knew that on awaking in the morning he had found the operation

                   _Novel style of catching them._

I never had but one personal interview with any of them. An ancient
gray gentleman, who looked a hundred years old, both in years and
depravity, would eat nothing but butter, when that article was twenty
dollars a pound; so finding all means of getting rid of him fail
through his superior intelligence, I caught him with a fish-hook, well
baited with a lump of his favorite butter, dropped into his domicile
under the kitchen floor. Epicures sometimes managed to entrap them and
secure a nice broil for supper, declaring that their flesh was superior
to squirrel meat; but never having tasted it, I cannot add my testimony
to its merits. They staid with us to the last, nor did I ever observe
any signs of a desire to change their politics. Perhaps some curious
_gourmet_ may wish a recipe for the best mode of cooking them. The rat
must be skinned, cleaned, his head cut off and his body laid open upon
a square board, the legs stretched to their full extent and secured
upon it with small tacks, then baste with bacon fat and roast before a
good fire quickly like canvas-back ducks.


                     _No Personal Animosities._

One of the remarkable features of the war was the perfect good nature
with which the rebels discussed their foes. In no instance up to a
certain period did I hear of any remark that savored of personal
hatred. They fought for a cause and against a power, and would speak in
depreciation of a corps or brigade; but “they fit us, and we fit them,”
was the whole story generally and till the blowing up of the mine at
Petersburg there was a gay, insouciant style in their descriptions of
the war scenes passing under their observation. But after that time
the sentiment changed from an innate feeling the Southern soldiers had
that mining was “a mean trick,” as they expressed it. They were not
sufficiently versed in military tactics to recognize that stratagem
is fair in war, and what added to their indignation was the pouring
in of _negro_ soldiers when the breach was effected. Incensed at the
surprise, they craved foes worthier of their steel, not caring to
rust it in the black cloud that issued from the crater. The men had
heretofore been calm and restrained, particularly before a woman, never
using oaths or improper language, but the wounded that were brought in
from that fight emulated the talents of Uncle Toby’s army in Flanders,
and eyes gleamed, and teeth clenched as they showed me the locks of
their muskets, to which the blood and hair still clung, when after
firing, without waiting to re-load, they had clenched the barrels and
fought hand to hand. If their accounts could be relied upon, it was a
gallant strife and a desperate one, and ghastly wounds bore testimony
of the truth of many a tale then told.

                        _The Bitter Blood._

Once again the bitter blood showed itself, when, after a skirmish,
the foe cut the rail track, so that the wounded could not be brought
to the city. Of all the monstrous crimes that war sanctions, this is
surely the most sinful. Wounded soldiers without the shelter of a roof,
or the comfort of a bed of straw, left exposed to sun, dew, and rain,
with hardly the prospect of a warm drink or decent food for days,
knowing that comfortable quarters awaited them, all ready prepared,
but rendered useless by what seems an unnecessarily cruel act. Was it
any wonder that their habitual indifference to suffering gave way, and
the soldier cursed loud and deep at a causeless inhumanity, which, if
practiced habitually, is worse than savage? When the sufferers at last
reached the hospital, their wounds had not been attended to for three
days, and the sight of them was shocking.

                         _A Common Sight._

Busy in my kitchen, seeing that the supply of necessary food was in
preparation, I was spared the sight of much of the suffering, but on
passing among the ambulances going in and out of the wards I descried
seated up in one of them a dilapidated figure, both hands holding his
head which was tied up with rags of all descriptions. He appeared to be
incapable of talking, but nodded and winked and made motions with head
and feet. In the general confusion he had been forgotten, so I took him
under my especial charge. He was taken into a ward, seated on a bed,
while I stood on a bench to be able to unwind rag after rag from around
his head. There was no sensitiveness on his part, for his eye was merry
and bright, but when the last came off, what a sight!

                     _A Looking-Glass Wanted._

Two balls had passed through his cheek and jaw within half an inch
of each other, knocking out the teeth on both sides and cutting the
tongue in half. The inflammation caused the swelling to be immense,
and the absence of all previous attendance, in consequence of the
detention of the wounded until the road could be mended, had aggravated
the symptoms. There was nothing fatal to be apprehended, but fatal
wounds are not always the most trying. The sight of this was the most
sickening my long experience had ever seen. The swollen lips turned
out, and the mouth filled with blood, matter, fragments of teeth from
amidst all of which the maggots in countless numbers swarmed and
writhed, while the smell generated by this putridity was unbearable.
Castile soap and soft sponges soon cleansed the offensive cavity, and
he was able in an hour to swallow some nourishment he drew through a
quill. The following morning I found him reading the newspaper, and
entertaining every one about him by his abortive attempts to make
himself understood, and in a week he actually succeeded in doing
so. The first request distinctly enunciated was that he wanted a
looking-glass to see if his sweetheart would be willing to kiss him
when she saw him. We all assured him that she would not be worthy of
the name if she would not be delighted to do so.


An order come about this time to clear out the lower wards for the
reception of improperly-vaccinated patients, who soon after arrived in
great numbers. They were dreadfully afflicted objects, many of them
with sores so deep and thick upon arms and legs that amputation had
to be resorted to, to preserve life. As fast as the eruption would be
healed in one spot, it would break out in another, for the blood seemed
entirely poisoned. The unfortunate victims bore the infliction as they
had borne everything else painful—with calm patience and indifference
to suffering. Sometimes a favorable comparison would be made between
this and the greater loss of limbs.

                        _Prisoners of War._

No one who was a daily witness to their agonies from this cause,
can help feeling indignant at charges made of inhumanity to Federal
prisoners of war, who were vaccinated with the same virus; and while on
this subject, though it may be outside of the recollections of hospital
life, I cannot help stating that on no occasion was the question of
rations and medicines to be issued for Federal prisoners discussed
in my presence; and circumstances placed me where I had the best
opportunity of hearing the truth (living with the wife of a Cabinet
officer); that good evidence was not given, that the Confederate
commissary-general, by order of the government issued to them the same
rations it gave its soldiers in the field, and only when reductions of
food had to be made in our army, were they also made in the prisons.
The question of supplies for them was an open and a vexed one among the
people generally, and angry and cruel things were _said_; but everyone
cognizant of facts in Richmond _knows_ that even when Gen. Lee’s
army lived on corn-meal at times that the prisoners still received
their usual rations. At a cabinet meeting when the Commissary-general
Northrop advocated putting the prisoners on the half rations which our
soldiers had been obliged to content themselves with for some time,
Gen. Lee opposed him on the ground that men animated by companionship
and active service could be satisfied with less than prisoners with no
hope and leading an inactive life. Mr. Davis sided with him, and the
question was settled that night, although in his anger Mr. Northrop
accused Gen. Lee of showing this consideration because his son was a
prisoner in the enemy’s lines.

                        _Unwelcome Visitors._

My hospital was now entirely composed of Virginians and Marylanders,
and the nearness to the homes of the former entailed upon me an
increase of care in the shape of wives, sisters, cousins, aunts, and
whole families including the historic baby at the breast. They came
in troops, and hard as it was to know how to dispose of them, it was
harder to send them away. Sometimes they brought their provisions with
them, but not often, and even when they did there was no place for them
to cook their food. It must be remembered that everything was reduced
to the lowest minimum, even fuel. They could not remain all day in
the wards with men around them, and if even they were so willing, the
restraint on wounded, restless patients who wanted to throw their limbs
about with freedom during hot summer days, was unbearable.

                     _An Unexpected Gathering._

Generally their only idea of kindness was giving sick men what food
they would take in any quantity and of every quality, and in the
furtherance of their views they were pugnacious in the extreme.
Whenever rules circumscribed their plans they abused the government,
then the hospital and then myself. Many ludicrous incidents happened
daily, and I have often laughed heartily at seeing the harassed
ward-master heading away a pertinacious female who failing to get past
him at one door would try the three others perseveringly. They seemed
to think it a pious and patriotic duty not to be afraid or ashamed
under _any_ circumstances. One sultry day I found a whole family
accompanied by two young lady friends seated around a wounded man’s
bed; as I passed through six hours later, they held the same position.


“Had not you all better go home?” I said good-naturedly.

“We came to see my cousin,” answered one very crossly. “He is wounded.”

“But you have been with him all morning, and that is a restraint upon
the other men. Come again to-morrow.”

A consultation was held, but when it ceased no movement was made, the
older ones only lighting their pipes and smoking in silence.

“Will you come back to-morrow, and go now?”

“No! You come into the wards when you please, and so will we!”

“But it is my duty to do so. Besides, I always ask permission to enter,
and never stay longer than fifteen minutes at a time.”

Another unbroken silence, which was a trial to any patience left, and
finding no movement made, I handed some clothing to a patient near.

“Here is a clean shirt and drawers for you, Mr. Wilson; put them on as
soon as I get out of the ward.”


I had hardly reached my kitchen, when the whole procession, pipes and
all, passed me solemnly and angrily; but for many days, and even weeks,
there was no ridding the place of this large family connection. Their
sins were manifold. They overfed their relative who was recovering from
an attack of typhoid fever, and even defiantly seized the food for the
purpose from under my very nose. They marched on me _en masse_ at ten
o’clock at night, with a requisition from the boldest for sleeping
quarters. The steward was summoned, and said “he didn’t keep a hotel,”
so in a weak moment of pity for their desolate state, I imprudently
housed them in my laundry. They entrenched themselves there for six
days, making predatory incursions into my kitchen during my temporary
absences, ignoring Miss G. completely. The object of their solicitude
recovered and was sent to the field, and finding my writs of ejectment
were treated with contemptuous silence, I sought an explanation. The
same spokeswoman alluded to above, met me half-way. She said a battle
was imminent she had heard, and she had determined to remain, as her
husband might be wounded. In the ensuing press of business she was
forgotten, and strangely enough, her husband was brought in with a
bullet in his neck the following week. The back is surely fitted to the
burden, so I contented myself with retaking my laundry, and letting her
shift for herself, while a whole month slipped away. One morning my
arrival was greeted with a general burst of merriment from everybody
I met, white and black. Experience had made me sage, and my first
question was a true shot, right in the center.

                 _Unexpected and Unwelcome Visitor._

“Where is Mrs. Daniells?” (she who had always been spokeswoman).

“In ward G. She has sent for you two or three times.”

“What is the matter now?”

“You must go and see.”

There was something going on, either amusing or amiss. I entered ward
G, and walked up to Daniells’ bed. One might have heard a pin drop.

I had supposed, up to this time, that I had been called upon to bear
and suffer every annoyance that humanity and the state of the country
could inflict; but here was something most unexpected in addition; for
lying composedly on her husband’s cot (he had relinquished it for the
occasion), lay Mrs. Daniells, and her baby, just two hours old.

                     _What shall I do with it?_

The conversation that ensued is not worth repeating, being more of the
nature of soliloquy. The poor little wretch had ventured into a bleak
and comfortless portion of the world, and its inhuman mother had not
provided a rag to cover it. No one could scold her at such a time,
however ardently they might desire to do so. But what was to be done?
I went in search of my chief surgeon, and our conversation although
didactic was hardly satisfactory on the subject.

“Doctor, Mrs. Daniells has a baby. She is in ward G. What shall I do
with her?”

“A baby! Bless me! Ah indeed! You must get it some clothes.”

“What must I do with _her_?”

“Move her to an empty ward and give her some tea and toast.”

This was offered, but Mrs. D. said she would wait until dinner-time and
have some bacon and greens.

The baby was a sore annoyance. The ladies of Richmond made up a
wardrobe, each contributing some article, and at the end of the month,
Mrs D., the child, and a basket of clothing and provisions were sent
to the cars with a return ticket to her home in western Virginia. My
feelings of relief can be imagined. But the end had not come. An hour
after the ambulance had started with them, it stopped at my kitchen
door apparently empty, and the black driver with a grin half of
delighted mischief and half of fear silently lifted a bundle out and
deposited it carefully upon my kitchen dresser. Mrs. Daniells’ baby!

                           _As Godmother._

The unnatural woman had deserted it, leaving it in the railroad depot,
but the father fortunately was still with us and to him I appealed. A
short furlough was obtained for him, and he was despatched home with
his embarrassing charge and a quart of milk. He was a wretched picture
of helplessness, but had I sent again for the mother I should never
have got rid of her. It may be remarked _en passant_ that she was not
wholly ungrateful, for the baby was named after me.


There were no means of keeping the relations of patients from coming
to them. There had been rules made to meet their invasion, but it was
impossible to carry them out, as in the instance of a wife wanting
to remain with her husband; and besides even the better class of
people looked upon the comfort and care of a hospital as a farce. They
resented the detention there of men who in many instances could lie in
bed and point to their homes within sight, and argued that they would
have better attention and food if allowed to go to their families.
That _maladie du pays_ called commonly nostalgia, the home-sickness
which wrings the heart and impoverishes the blood, killed many a brave
soldier; and the matron who day by day had to stand helpless and
powerless by the bed of the sufferer, knowing that a week’s furlough
would make his heart sing for joy, and save his wife from widowhood,
learned the most bitter lesson of endurance that could be taught.

This home-sickness recognized no palliation. However carefully the
appetite might be pampered, or stimulants prepared and given, the
food never nourished, the drink never strengthened; the decay would
be gradual, but death was inevitable. Perhaps when recovery seemed
hopeless, a statement of the case might procure a furlough from the
examining board of surgeons, but the patient would then be too weak and
low to profit by the concession. It was wonderful to see how long the
poor broken machine would hold out in some cases. For months I have
watched a victim, helpless, hopeless, and motionless, simply receive
into his mouth daily a few spoonfuls of nourishment, making no other
movement, the skin barely covering the bones, and the skeleton of the
face as sharply defined as it might have been days after dissolution.
The answer to cheering words seldom exceeding a slight movement of the
eyelids. Towards the end of the war, this detention of men who could
have been furloughed at first, and some other abuses were reformed
by allowing a board to be convened of three of the oldest surgeons
attached to the hospital, who had authority to dispose of such cases
without deferring to higher powers. There had been so much imposition
practiced by men desirous of getting furloughs, and so many abuses
had crept in despite the stringency of rules, that severity seemed


                        _Spring Operations._

The spring campaign of 1864 again opened with the usual “On to
Richmond.” Day after day and night after night would the sudden
explosion of cannon boom upon the air. The enemy were always coming,
and curiosity seemed to have usurped the place of fear among the
women. In the silence of night the alarm bells would suddenly peal
out, till the order to ring them at any sign of danger was modified to
a command to sound them only in case of positive attack. The people
became so accustomed to the report of fire-arms, that they scarcely
interrupted their conversation at corners of the streets to ask in what
direction the foe was advancing, or if there was any foe at all.

There was such entire reliance upon the military vigilance that guarded
the city, and former attacks had been so promptly repelled, that
whatever was ultimately to be the result of the war, no one trembled
then for Richmond. So the summer of 1864 passed, and early in September
our hearts were gladdened by the tidings that the exchange of prisoners
was to be renewed. The sick and wounded of our hospital (but few in
number just then), were transferred to other quarters, and the wards
put in order to receive our men from Northern prisons.

                        _Unpleasant Truths._

Can any pen or pencil do justice to those squalid pictures of famine
and desolation? Those gaunt, lank skeletons with the dried yellow flesh
clinging to bones enlarged by dampness and exposure? Those pale,
bluish lips and feverish eyes, glittering and weird when contrasted
with the famine-stricken faces,—that flitting, piteous, scared smile
which greeted their fellow creatures, all will live forever before the
mental vision that then witnessed it.

Living and dead were taken from the flag-of-truce boat, not
distinguishable save from the difference of care exercised in moving
them. The Federal prisoners we had released were in many instances in
a like state, but our ports had been blockaded, our harvests burned,
our cattle stolen, our country wasted. Even had we felt the desire to
succor, where could the wherewithal have been found? But the foe,—the
ports of the world were open to him. He could have fed his prisoners
upon milk and honey, and not have missed either. When we review the
past, it would seem that Christianity was but a name—that the Atonement
had failed, and Christ had lived and died in vain.

                 _Cast your bread upon the waters._

But it was no time then for vague reflections. With beating heart,
throbbing head and icy hands I went among this army of martyrs
and spectres whom it was almost impossible to recognize as human
beings; powerless to speak to them, choking with unavailing pity, but
still striving to aid and comfort. There was but little variety of
appearance. From bed to bed the same picture met the eye. Hardly a
vestige of human appearance left.

                        _Draw the Vail down._

The passion of sympathy could only impede my efforts if yielded to, for
my hand shook too tremulously even to allow me to put the small morsels
of bread soaked in wine into their mouths. It was all we dared to give
at first. Some laid as if dead with limbs extended, but the greater
part had drawn up their knees to an acute angle, a position they never
changed until they died. Their more fortunate comrades said that the
attitude was generally assumed, as it reduced the pangs of hunger and
relieved the craving that gnawed them by day and by night. The Federal
prisoners may have been starved at the South, we cannot deny the truth
of the charge, in many instances; but we starved with them; we had only
a little to share with any—but the subject had better be left to die in

                         _A Common Story._

One among them lingered in patience the usual three days that
appeared to be their allotted space of life on their return. He was a
Marylander, heir to a name renowned in the history of his country,[1]
the last of seven sons reared in affluence, but presenting the same
bluish, bloodless appearance common to them all. Hoping that there
would be some chance of his rallying, I gave him judicious nursing
and good brandy. Every precaution was taken, but the third day fever
supervened and the little life left waned rapidly. He gave me the
trinkets cut from gutta percha buttons that he had beguiled his
captivity in making at Point Lookout, to send to his family, handing me
one of them for a souvenir; begged that he might be buried apart from
the crowd in some spot where those who knew and cared for him might
find him some day, and quietly slept himself to death that night.

                       _A Strange Experience._

The next morning was the memorable 29th September, 1864, when the enemy
made a desperate and successful attack, taking Fort Harrison, holding
it and placing Richmond in jeopardy for four hours. The alarm bells
summoned the citizens together, and the shops being closed to allow
those who kept them to join the city guards, there were no means of
buying a coffin, or getting a hearse. It was against the rules to keep
a body beyond a certain time on the hospital grounds, so little time
was to be lost if I intended keeping my promise to the dead. I summoned
a convalescent carpenter from one of the wards, made him knock together
a rough coffin from some loose boards, and taking the seats out of my
ambulance had it, with the body enclosed, put in. My driver was at his
post with the guards, so taking the reins and kneeling in the little
space at the side of the coffin I started for Hollywood cemetery, a
distance of five miles.

The enemy were then in sight, and from every elevated point the masses
of manœuvering soldiers and flash of the enemy’s cannon could be
distinguished. Only stopping as I passed through the city to buy a
piece of ground from the old cemetery agent, I reached Hollywood by
twelve o’clock. Near the burying-ground I met the Rev. Mr. McCabe,
requested his presence and assistance, and we stood side by side
while the sexton dug his grave. The rain was pouring in torrents,
while the clergyman repeated the Episcopal burial service from memory.
Besides ourselves there but two poor women, of the humblest class
of life—Catholics, who passing casually, dropped upon their knees,
undeterred by the rain, and paid their humble tribute of respect to the

                “_We left him alone in his glory._”

He had all the honors of a soldier’s burial paid to him unconsciously,
for the cannon roared and the musketry rattled, mingling with the
thunder and lightning of Heaven’s artillery. The sexton held his
hat over the small piece of paper on which I inscribed his name and
birthplace (to be put on his headboard) to protect it from the rain,
and with a saddened heart for the solitary grave we left behind I drove
back to the city. The reverend gentleman was left at his home, and,
perhaps, to this day does not know who his companion was during that
strange hour.

                         _Intense Anxiety._

I found the city in the same state of excitement, for no authentic news
was to be heard, or received, except perhaps at official quarters; and
it was well known that we had no troops nearer than Petersburg, save
the citizens who had enrolled themselves for defense; therefore too
anxious to return directly to the hospital, I drove to the residence
of one of the cabinet ministers, where I was engaged to attend a
dinner, and found the mistress of the establishment, surrounded by
her servants and trunks preparing for a hasty retreat when necessary.
Some persuasion induced her to desist, and the situation of the house
commanding an extensive view of the surrounding country, we watched
the advance of the enemy from the extreme northeast, for with the
aid of opera-glasses we could even distinguish the colors of their
uniforms. Slowly onward moved the bodies of dark blue, emerging from
and disappearing into the woods, seeming to be skirting around them,
but not to be diminishing the distance between, although each moment
becoming more distinct, which proved their advance, while not one
single Confederate jacket could be observed over the whole sweep of


Half an anxious hour passed, and then, far away against the distant
horizon, one single mounted horseman emerged from a thick wood, looked
cautiously around, passed across the road and disappeared. He was in
gray, and followed by another and another, winding around and cutting
off the foe. Then a startling peal at the bell, and a courier brought
the news that Wade Hampton and his cavalry were close upon the rear
of the enemy. There was no occasion for fear after this, for General
Hampton was the Montrose of the Southern army, he who could make any
cause famous with his pen and glorious with his sword. The dinner
continued in course of preparation, and was seasoned, when served, by
spirits brightened by the strong reaction.


                        _Itinerary Labors._

The horrors that attended, in past times, the bombardment of a city,
were experienced in a great degree in Richmond during the fighting
around us. The close proximity to the scenes of strife, the din of
battle, the bursting of shells, the fresh wounds of the men hourly
brought in were daily occurrences. Walking through the streets during
this time, after the duties of the hospital were over, when night had
well advanced, the pavement around the railroad depot would be crowded
with wounded men just brought in, and laid there waiting for conveyance
to the receiving hospitals. Some on stretchers, others on the bare
bricks, or laid on a thin blanket, suffering from wounds hastily
wrapped around with strips of coarse, unbleached, galling bandages
of homespun cotton, on which the blood had congealed and stiffened
until every crease cut like a knife. Women passing accidentally, like
myself, would put down their basket or bundle, and ringing at the bell
of neighboring houses, ask for basin and soap, warm water, and a few
soft rags, and going from sufferer to sufferer, try to alleviate with
what skill they possessed, the pain of fresh wounds, change the uneasy
posture, and allay the thirst. Others would pause and look on, till
the labor appearing to require no particular talent, they too would
follow the example set them, and occasionally asking a word of advice,
do their duty carefully and willingly. Idle boys would get a pine
knot or tallow-dip, and stand quietly and curiously as torch-bearers,
till the scene, with its gathering accessories formed a strange
picture, not easily forgotten. Persons driving in different vehicles
would alight sometimes in evening dress, and choosing the wounded
most in need of surgical aid, put them in their places, and send them
to their destination, continuing their way on foot. There was little
conversation carried on, no necessity for introductions, and no names
ever asked or given.

                     _A Rose by any other Name._

This indifference to personality was a peculiarity strongly exhibited
in hospitals, for after nursing a sick or wounded patient for months,
he has often left without any curiosity exhibited as regarded my name,
my whereabouts, or indeed any thing connected with me. A case in point
was related by a friend. When the daughter of our general had devoted
much time and care to a sick man in one of the hospitals, he seemed to
feel so little gratitude for the attention paid, that her companion to
rouse him told him that Miss Lee was his nurse. “Lee, Lee?” he said.
“There are some Lees down in Mississippi who keep a tavern there. Is
she one of them Lees?”

                    _Not among the Compliments._

Almost of the same style, although a little worse was the remark of
one of my sick, a poor fellow who had been wounded in the head and who,
though sensible enough ordinarily, would feel the effect of the sun on
his brain when exposed to its influence. After advising him to wear a
wet paper doubled into the crown of his hat more from a desire to show
some interest in him than from any belief in its efficacy, I paused at
the door long enough to hear him ask the ward-master “who that was?”
“Why, that is the matron of the hospital; she gives you all the food
you eat, and attends to things.” “Well!” said he, “I always did think
this government was a confounded sell, and now I am sure of it, when
they put such a little fool to manage such a big hospital as this.”

The ingenuity of the men was wonderful in making toys and trifles,
and a great deal of mechanical talent was developed by the enforced
inaction of hospital life. Every ward had its draught-board and
draughtsmen cut out of hard wood and stained with vegetable dies,
and sometimes chessmen would be cut out with a common knife, in such
ornamentation that they would not have disgraced a drawing-room.

                     _New Uses for the Bible._

One man carved pipes from ivy root, with exquisitely-cut shields on
the bowls, bearing the arms of the different States and their mottoes.
He would charge and easily get a hundred and fifty dollars for a
pipe (Confederate paper was then sixty cents for the dollar), and
he only used his well-worn pocket-knife. Playing cards—the greatest
comfort to alleviate the tedium of their sick life—were difficult to
get a substitute for, so that the original packs had a hard time.
They became, as may be supposed from the hands which used them, very
dirty in a short time, and the corners in a particularly disreputable
condition, but after the diffusion of the Oxford editions of the
different books of the Bible sent from England as a donation, the
soldiers took a lesson, and rounded the corners in imitation. A pack of
cards after four years’ use in a Southern hospital was beyond criticism.

                          _Camp Fashions._

The men had their fashions too, sometimes insisting upon having light
blue pants drawn for them, and at other seasons preferring gray; but
while the mania for either color raged, they would be dissatisfied
with the other. When the quartermaster-general issued canvas shoes
there was a loud dissatisfaction expressed in constant grumbling, till
some original genius dyed the whitish tops by the liberal application
of poke-berries. He was the Brummel of the day, and for many months
crimson shoes were the rage, and long rows of unshod men would sit
under the eaves of the wards, all diligently employed in the same labor
and up to their elbows in red juice.

This fashion died out, and gave place to a button mania. Men who had
never had a dream or a hope beyond a horn convenience to keep their
clothing together, saved up their scanty means to replace them with
gilt, and made neat little wooden shelves with a slit through the
middle into which the buttons slid, so that they could be cleaned and
brightened without taking them off, or soiling the jacket. With the
glitter of buttons came the corresponding taste for gilt bands and
tinsel around the battered hat, so that while our future was lowering
darker and darker, our soldiers were amusing themselves like children
who had no interest in the coming results.


                        _Life was so Sweet._

The duty which of all others pressed most heavily upon me and which
I never did perform voluntarily was that of telling a man he could
not live, when he was perhaps unconscious that there was any danger
apprehended from his wound. The idea of death so seldom occurs when
disease and suffering have not wasted the frame and destroyed the vital
energies, that there is but little opening or encouragement to commence
such a subject unless the patient suspects the result ever so slightly.
In many cases too, the yearning for life was so strong that to destroy
the hope was beyond human power. Life was for him a furlough, family
and friends once more around him; a future was all he wanted, and
considered it cheaply purchased if only for a month by the endurance of
any wound, however painful or wearisome.

                   _Difficult Responsibilities._

There were long discussions among those responsible during the war, as
to the advisability of the frequent amputations on the field, and often
when a hearty, fine-looking man in the prime of life would be brought
in minus an arm or leg, I would feel as if it might have been saved,
but experience taught me the wisdom of prompt measures. Poor food and
great exposure had thinned the blood and broken down the system so
entirely that secondary amputations performed in the hospital almost
invariably resulted in death, after the second year of the war. The
blood lost on the battlefield when the wound was first received would
enfeeble the already impaired system and render it incapable of further


Once we received a strong, stalwart soldier from Alabama, and after
five days’ nursing, finding the inflammation from the wound in his
arm too great to save the limb, the attending surgeon requested me to
feed him on the best I could command; by that means to try and give
him strength to undergo amputation. Irritability of stomach as well
as indifference to food always accompanying gun-shot wounds, it was
necessary, while the fever continued, to give him as much nourishment
in as small a compass as possible, as well as easily digestible food,
that would assimilate with his enfeebled condition. Beef tea he (in
common with all soldiers and I believe men) would not, or could not
take, or anything I suggested as an equivalent, so getting his consent
to drink some “chemical mixture,” I prepared the infusion. Chipping up
a pound of beef and pouring upon it a half pint of water, the mixture
was stirred until all the blood was extracted, and only a tea-spoonful
of white fibre remained; a little salt was added, and favored by the
darkness of the corner of the ward in which he lay, I induced him to
swallow it. He drank without suspicion, and fortunately liked it,
only complaining of its being too sweet; and by the end of ten days
his pulse was fairly good, and there had been no accession of fever.
Every precaution was taken, both for his sake and the benefit of the
experiment, and the arm taken off by the most skillful surgeon we
had. After the amputation, which he bore bravely, he looked as bright
and well as before, and so on for five days—then the usual results
followed. The system proved not strong enough to throw out the “pus”
or inflammation; and this, mingling with the blood, produced that most
fatal of all diseases, pyæmia, from which no one ever recovers.


He was only one of numerous cases, so that my heart beat twice as
rapidly as ordinarily whenever there were any arrangements progressing
for amputation, after any length of time had elapsed since the
wound, or any effort made to save the limb. The only cases under my
observation that survived were two Irishmen, and it was really so
difficult to kill an Irishman that there was little cause for boasting
on the part of the officiating surgeons. One of them had his leg cut
off in pieces, amputation having been performed three times, and the
last heard from him was that he had married a young wife and settled
on a profitable farm she owned in Macon, Georgia. He had touched
the boundary lines of the “unknown land,” had been given up by the
surgeons, who left me with orders to stimulate him if possible. The
priest (for he was a Catholic) was naturally averse to my disturbing
what he considered the last moments of a dying man who had made his
confession and taken his farewell of this world, and which ought to
have been devoted to less worldly temptations than mint juleps; and a
rather brisk encounter was the result of a difference of opinion on
the subject; for if he was responsible for the soul, so was I for the
body, and I held my ground firmly.

                     _Whiskey_ versus _Religion._

It was hard for an Irishman and a good Catholic to have to choose
at this supreme moment between religion and whiskey; but though
his head was turned respectfully towards good Father T—— his eyes
rested too lovingly on the goblet offered to his lips to allow me to
make any mistake as to the results of his ultimate intentions. The
interpretation put by me on that look was that Callahan thought that
as long as first proof brandy and mint lasted in the Confederacy this
world was good enough for him, and the result proved that I was not
mistaken. He always gave me the credit I have awarded to the juleps,
and until the evacuation of Richmond kept me informed of his domestic


                           _My Furlough._

Though my health up to this time had withstood the bad effects of
exposure and exertion, the strain had become too great, and the
constantly recurring agitation which had been excited each day on
receiving the returned prisoners, had broken me down completely. A
visit to the surgeon-general with a request for a month’s leave of
absence, met with a ready acquiescence. The old gentleman was very
urbane, even making one or two grim jokes, and handed me not only
permission to leave, but the necessary transportation. Very necessary
in this case, as traveling expenses were enormously high, and the
government had seized for the whole month of October the railroads for
military use, putting a complete stop to private travel.

It had been like tearing body and soul apart, when necessity compelled
me to leave my hospital, from which I had never been separated but
one day in nearly four years; and when all arrangements for departure
had been completed, Miss G. urged, entreated and commanded to keep a
sharp look-out upon the whiskey, and be alike impenetrable to feints,
stratagems and entreaties, my heart began to sink. A visit to the wards
did not tend to strengthen my wavering resolves. The first invalid
to whom I communicated the news of my intended departure burst into
a passion of tears, and improved my frame of mind by requesting me
to kill him at once, for he would certainly die if left. Standing by
his bedside, unsettled and irresolute, all the details of my daily
life rose before me. The early and comforting visit to the sick after
their feverish, restless night; when even if there were no good to be
effected, they would feel the kindness, and every man’s head would be
thrust out of the bed-clothes as by one impulse, and jealousy evinced
when a longer pause by one bedside than another would arouse the
feeling. Often has the ward-master recalled me when at, the distance
of a quarter of a mile from his ward, at the request of a patient, and
when going back to find out what was wanted, a hearty convalescent
would explain that I had passed through and omitted to speak to him.


Farewells were exchanged at last, and the 6th October, 1864, found me
at the Fredericksburg station, _en route_ for Georgia. A search at the
last moment before stepping into the cars, discovered that my keys,
together with my watch, had been left at the hospital, while, as an
equivalent, there remained at the bottom of my basket half a salt
mackerel (a rare luxury in the Confederacy), begged for a sick man who
fancied it, a day before, and forgotten in the hurry of packing. I was
compelled to defer my start until the 7th.

There are some schoolday recollections hanging around the softening by
Hannibal of a rugged journey by the plentiful application of vinegar;
but what acid could soften the rigors of that trip to Georgia? They
can hardly be recounted in any degree of limited space. With the aid
of two gentlemen, and indeed every disengaged man on the road, a safe
termination was effected after many days, and a delicious holiday
passed in idleness and _Confederate_ luxury, free from the wear and
tear of constantly excited feelings. Then came the stern reflection
that I had no right to exceed the furlough of thirty days accorded by
Dr. Moore. A search was immediately made for an escort, which having
failed, general advice was unanimously given to “go alone,” on the
grounds that women had become entirely independent at this time, and
“no man knowing the object of your journey could fail to give you all
the assistance you would need.”

                      _A Hard Road to Travel._

Fired with this Quixotic sentiment, an early start was made. Finding
almost immediately that I had not received checks for my trunks, I
ventured, while the afflatus lasted, to touch a man who sat in front of
me on the arm, and request him to call the conductor. “I am sorry to
say that I am not acquainted with him,” was the answer; and down I went
to zero, never rising again till my journey was accomplished.

Perhaps the details of my trials may give my readers some idea of the
state of the country at that time. At West Point, which took an hour
and a half’s travel to reach from Legrange, we had to sleep all night,
there being no connection for twelve hours. There were no bed-rooms,
and no candles to be had, and the female travelers sat in the little
bar of the tavern (the leading hotel being closed) brightened by a
pine knot, with their feet on the sanded floor, and ate what they had
provided themselves with from their baskets.

                      _Services not Required._

Another two hours’ travel on to Opelika the next day, and another
detention for half-a-dozen hours. At Columbus, a rumor that the
cars had been seized for government transportation made me anxious
concerning the nature of my ticket, which I found to my dismay was
not suited to meet the emergency through some inadvertence; so long
before starting-time I was waiting at the depot seated on my trunk,
half amused and half mortified at the resemblance thus offered to an
emigrant Irish servant woman. The place was crowded with invalided
soldiers, for the government was moving the hospitals to the lower
part of the State, and idle spectators seeing my evident alarm offered
all kinds of irrational advice. A suggestion was sensibly made by
some one that by seeking one of the most helpless of the wounded and
requesting him to allow me to pass as his nurse my object might be
effected; but every man to whom I opened my proposals seemed alarmed
at and opposed to this idea. Towards the last the confusion became
distracting—everybody calling for the conductor, who possessing no
power, the cars being under military control, first denied his identity
and then hid himself.

                    _Friend to the “Faymales.”_

Help came at the last moment in the form of a red-faced, half-tipsy
Irish porter who had been cheering me on with winks of encouragement at
my frantic efforts for some time. “Lit me put yer trunks on,” he said,
and “thin go to Col. Frankland at the rare of the cars—sure he’s the
man to help the faymales.”

My forlorn hope, Col. Frankland, was standing on the platform at the
extreme rear of the cars, surrounded by a semi-circle below, about
twenty-five feet deep, all pressing on to get to seats already too
full. He was gesticulating and shouting like a madman. The lame, the
halt, and the blind stood around. Crutches, splints, and huge sticks
represented a small wood. Green blinds over eyes, raw faces peeled
from erysipelas, and still showing variegated hues of iodine, gave
picturesqueness to the scene. Had he borne Cæsar and his fortunes he
could not have been more interested. For two hours he had been stemming
this living tide.

                          _A Bold Attempt._

I had met and fraternized with a lady and gentleman, old acquaintances,
encountered at the depot, who appeared as anxious to get Northward
as myself; so telling her not to move until I had either achieved my
object or failed, and if I made her a sign to join me, I took my
position at the fag end of the crowd below the colonel, and undeterred
by distance and uproar I essayed a faint call for notice. The sound
died away in my throat, but my Irish friend (I am sure he took me for
one of his cousins from the “ould counthrie”), was by my side in an
instant and repeated the call. A hundred voices took up the refrain, “A
lady wants to speak to the colonel,” and universal curiosity regarding
the _private_ nature of my business being exhibited by a profound
silence I raised my voice as Mause Headrigg said, “like a pelican in
the wilderness:”

“Col. Frankland, I must get forward on this train to-night. Government
business requires me to be in Richmond by the 1st November.”

“Can’t do it, Madam. Would like to oblige you, but can’t go against my
orders. The cars are for the use of sick and wounded soldiers alone.”

               _None but the fair deserve the brave._

“But Col. Frankland, hundreds of invalids are waiting for their
breakfast, dinner and supper in Richmond. I am the matron of ——

“Can’t help it, Madam! If you men there don’t keep away from this
platform and leave a passage way, I’ll put the front rank under arrest!”

“Oh! Col. Frankland, cannot I stand on the platform, if I am not
allowed to use the cars?”

“No, Madam, it would be dangerous. Sorry to refuse.”

“Let me go in the freight train.”

“There is no freight train.”

“Well, the box cars? I take very little room.”

“They are crowded, Madam, crowded. Keep off, men, keep off there!”

The steam blew and whistled fearfully and the bell clanged an uproar
of sound. A passing car came rushing by and my courage was oozing
fast. “Try him agin!” said my Irish friend, who unable to get near me,
shouted his secret.

                     _Importance of Hair-Pins._

“Oh! Col. Frankland, excuse my pertinacity, but what _can_ I do? Let
me go on in the mail car! I will not even open my eyes to look at the
outside of the letters.”

“Against the law. Cannot be done. How can I infringe upon my orders?
Will no one keep those confounded men off?”

“_I will_, Col. Frankland, if you will let me get up by your side. I
will keep every single man away. Now men, keep off, I beg of you, for I
must get to Richmond, and moreover, I wear very long hair-pins.”

“Thank you, Madam, thank you. Now men, you hear what this lady says,
and I know she will be as good as her word.” A hundred hands helped
me up. I looked for my friend the red-nosed Irishman, but he was
gone. Another moment and my friend stood by my side, assisted by the
Irishman, who tipped me a comprehensive wink which set my mind at rest
as regarded the safety of my trunk.

“This is not fair,” said the Colonel. “You promised that no one should
get on.”

“Oh, no, I promised that not a _single man_ should do so. This is a
woman. Will you let her husband join her? He is not a _single_ man, for
he has a wife and nine children!”

The result may be imagined. Our party, very much relieved, were soon
inside, where we found four comfortable seats reserved for Gen.
Beauregard and staff, which were unoccupied from those gentlemen being
detained at Macon.

                         _Another Attempt._

At that city, where we were compelled to pass the night, the same state
of things existed, and with depressed spirits I drove to the cars to
see if any arrangement could be effected by which I could pursue my
journey. The road would not be opened to the traveling public for
a month, so an effort had to be made. An appeal to the authorities
resulted as I expected, in defeat, so I again tried my manœuver of
trying to interest subordinates.

Failing, however, and baffled at every turn, while sitting again upon
my trunk, the mail agent, standing in the doorway of his car, caught
my eye. Improving the opportunity, I commenced a conversation, ending
in an insinuating appeal to be taken into the mail box. Success and
installation in his little square domicil followed, and my friend,
passing out without any explanation, locked the door on the outside.
There were no windows and no light whatever; the hour six in the

                       _Frightened at Last._

Seated in loneliness and darkness till the town clock struck eight,
every fear that could arise in the brain of a silly woman assailed
me. Did the train I was in go to Augusta, and if not, would I be left
where I was all night? Was the man who locked me up the mail agent?
If he came back and robbed and murdered me, would any one ever miss
me? Having had nothing to eat but a couple of biscuits in twenty-four
hours, and my brain being, in consequence, proportionately light,
imagination seized the reins from common sense, which fled in the
presence of utter darkness and loneliness.

At last the key turned in the lock, and the light of a lantern
dispelled some of my terrors. The cars started and the agent commenced
sorting his letters, first bolting us in securely. A couple of hours
passed and my mind was gradually losing its tone of unpleasant doubt
as to the wisdom of my proceedings, when my busy companion knocked off
work and essayed to play the agreeable. He was communicative in the
extreme, giving me his biography, which proved him to be a Connecticut
man, and very much dissatisfied with the Confederacy, particularly
with the state of the money market. So long as he kept to his
personal recollections all was right, but he soon claimed a return of
confidence, and grew hourly more patronizing and conversational. His
tone and manner, the loneliness of the position, and the impossibility
of any fortunate interruption occurring becoming unbearable at last,
there is no knowing what I might have ventured to do, in the way of
breaking out, if the cars had not fortunately run off the track.

                    _All’s well that ends well._

On we bumped, happily on level ground, for two minutes or more; the
engineer entirely unconscious of the fact and no way of communicating
with him, as the soldiers were lying over the rope on the top of
the cars, so that pulling was in vain. At last a pause, and then a
crowd, and then a familiar name was called, most welcome to my ears.
I repeated it aloud until the owner was by my side, and the rest of
the night was spent in asking questions and receiving information. At
daylight he left me to rejoin his command, while we continued on to

As usual, when we arrived there no vehicle of any kind met us at the
depot, but being the only woman in the cars, the mail driver offered
me a seat upon the mail-bags, and as it was raining I accepted, and in
this august style reached the hotel by breakfast time. All military
suspension ceased here, but there was detention for two hours, and this
was enlivened by an amusing episode at the depot.

                   _Up-country Georgia Eloquence._

Directly in front of me sat an old Georgia up-country woman, placidly
regarding the box cars full of men on the parallel rails, waiting like
ourselves to start. She knitted and gazed, and at last inquired “who
was them ar soldiers, and whar was they a-going to?” The information
that they were Yankee prisoners startled her considerably. The knitting
ceased abruptly (all the old women in the Southern States knitted socks
for the soldiers while traveling), and the Cracker bonnet of dark brown
homespun was thrown back violently, for her whole nervous system seemed
to have received a galvanic shock. Then she caught her breath with a
long gasp, lifted on high her thin, trembling hand, accompanied by the
trembling voice, and made them a speech:

“Ain’t you ashamed of you-uns,” she piped, “a-coming down here
a-spiling our country, and a-robbing our hen-roosts? What did we ever
do to you-uns that you should come a-killing our brothers and sons?
Ain’t you ashamed of you-uns? What for do you want us to live with
you-uns, you poor white trash? I ain’t got a single nigger that would
be so mean as to force himself where he warn’t wanted, and what do
we-uns want with you? Ain’t you——” but here came a roar of laughter
from both cars, and shaking with excitement the old lady pulled down
her spectacles, which in the excitement she had pushed up on her
forehead, and tried in vain to resume her labors with uncertain fingers.

                       _General Desolation._

From here to Richmond there occurred the usual detentions and trials
of railroad travel under the existing circumstances. The windows of
the cars were broken out in many places. Sometimes no fire for want of
stoves, and the nights damp and chilly. All in utter darkness, for the
lamps were gone, and could they have been replaced, there would have
been no oil.

                      _A Woman has an Opinion._

We crawled along, stopping every hour almost, to tinker up some
part of the car or the road, getting out at times when the conductor
announced that the travelers must walk “a spell or two,” meaning from
one to five miles. Crowds of women were getting in and out all the way,
the male passengers grumbling aloud that “women had better stay at
home, they had no business to be running around in such times.” This
was said so often that it became very unpleasant, till the tables were
turned early one morning at Gainsborough, when a large-sized female
made her way along the center of the car, looking from right to left in
the vain search for a seat. None being vacant, she stopped short, and
addressed the astonished male passengers with more vigor than elegance:
“What for pity sake do you men mean by running all around the country
for, instead of staying in the field, as you ought to do? You keep
filling up the cars so that a woman can’t attend to her business. Your
place should be opposite the enemy.” This diversion on our behalf was
received silently, but many seats were soon vacated by their occupants
on the plea of “taking a little smoke.”

                          _Beaten at Last._

At last, the 1st of November found me weary, hungry, cold and exhausted
by travel at the Richmond depot, four hours after schedule time; with
that most terrible scourge, a bad, nervous headache racking me all
over. The crowd around was immense, so that by the time it opened and
dispersed sufficiently to let me make my way through, every vehicle had
left, if there had ever been any there before. As usual, my telegram
had not been received, so there was no one to meet me, and pain
rendering me indifferent to appearances I quietly spread my shawl upon
a bench and myself upon it. For how long I cannot say, but I was roused
by a voice asking what I wanted, and what was the matter? “Any kind
of a vehicle to take me home,” was the answer. After a few moments’
delay my new friend returned with the information that there was only
a market cart, which if I was willing to ride in, was for hire. If it
had been a hearse it would have been hailed with welcome. My two trunks
were put on, and I was deposited on them. The hour, eleven at night.

                  _One of our Future Presidents._

I looked first at the horse. He had a shadowy gray skin stretched
over his prominent bones, and in the dim, misty light, seemed a mere
phantom. The driver next came under observation. A little dried-up,
gray black, old darkey, with a brown rag tied around his head, but like
all his species he was kindly disposed and respectful. Directions were
given him to drive to a friend’s house. He said that his horse was too
tired, but if I were willing, he had another “at his place,” where he
would drive me and change.

Quite willing, or rather too weary to assert any authority, so on
we rumbled and rattled almost twice the distance I was first bound,
changed one skeleton for another, and started again for my friend’s
house. At last the blessed haven was reached, but the sight of a new
face to my summons at the door made my heart sink. She had “moved

“Drive to Miss G.’s house,” was my next direction, intending to throw
myself upon her hospitality and charity for the night, for we were out
of the way of all hotels.

The same result on application. Had all Richmond moved? The fresh air,
and the necessity for exertion in this novel position had routed my
headache, and now gave me courage to make a proposition I hadn’t dared
to make before.


“Could not you drive me to the hospital on the hill?” was my demand
made in most ingratiating tones.

The old man untied the rag from off his head, and smoothed it on his
knee by way of ironing out the creases and assisting reflection;
replaced it, taking up the reins again before he answered, for we were
now at a stand-still at the Broad street hill.

“Missis,” said he solemnly, “de way it is long, and de bridges dey is
rotten; but ef you is not afeared to dribe ober dem by you-self, and
let me git out, and pay me ten dollars, de ole hoss might be consarned
to go up dis yere hill.”

The bargain was struck, and the hospital reached after midnight. The
key of my apartments sent for, when the duplicate hair that at last
broke the camel’s back was laid upon mine.

“Miss G. had taken it with her.”

“Bring a carpenter,” I cried desperately; “and tell him to get a
sledge-hammer and knock down, or in, anything that will let me get into
the place. I _must_ have rest.”

The door was broken open; a fire was kindled; a delicious piece of
cold hard corn-bread found and devoured, and when the warm covering of
the first bed I had slept in for ten days was drawn around me, all the
troubles of a hard world melted away, and the only real happiness on
earth, entire exemption from mental and bodily pain, took possession of


                         _And Comparisons._

I noticed on my return a great difference in the means of living
between Virginia and the Gulf States. Even in the most wealthy and
luxurious houses in Richmond, former everyday comforts had about this
time become luxuries, and had been dispensed with earlier in the war.

Farther south, they still received from Nassau what they needed, always
running the risks of losing the cargoes of the blockade-runners,
therefore duplicating orders. Tea and coffee were first given up at
the capital, then many used corn flour,—wheat was so high. Gradually
butter disappeared from the breakfast table, and brown sugar when
it reached twenty dollars a pound shared the same fate. But no such
economy appeared necessary where I had been. The air of the people in
the cars and around the railroad stations was hopeful in the extreme.
There was no doubt expressed even at this late day, the November of
1864, as to the ultimate success of the Southern cause.

Their hospitals though did not compare with those I had left in
Virginia, either in arrangement, cleanliness or attendance. Even as
early as 1862 the matrons’ places there had been filled by ladies of
education and refinement; but this with a few exceptions had been the
rule in Virginia only, and such supervision made a marked difference,
as may be supposed.

                       _Entire Resumption._

During my absence, the greater portion of the patients I had left a
month previously had either recovered and left, or died, so that it
was awkward to resume my duties among strangers. A few days’ visiting
rectified this however. The happiest welcome I got was from Miss G.,
who resigned the key of the liquor closet with a sigh which spoke
volumes. From what could be gathered, she had been equal to the
occasion, and knowing the hardships of her dragonship I did not press
her strenuously upon points connected with it.

                      _Christmas Festivities._

The health of the army was now so good, that except when the wounded
were sent in, we were comparatively idle. That terrible scourge,
pneumonia, so prevalent early in the war, and so fatal in its typhoid
form, had almost disappeared. The men had become accustomed and inured
to exposure. Christmas passed pleasantly. The hospital fund (from the
great depreciation of the money) being too small to allow us to make
much festive preparation, the ladies of the city drove out in carriages
and ambulances laden with good things. The previous years we had been
enabled to give out of the expenditure of our own funds a bowl of
egg-nogg and a slice of cake, for lunch, to every man in the hospital,
as well as his portion of turkey and oysters for dinner; but times were
more stringent now.

                 _Discussions regarding the Hero._

Soon after New Year, 1865, some members of the committee on hospital
affairs called to see me, desirous of getting some information
regarding the use or abuse of liquor, before the bill for the
appropriations for the coming year would be introduced. There were
doubts afloat as to whether the benefit conferred upon the patients by
the use of stimulants counterbalanced the evil effects they produced
on the surgeons, who were in the habit of making use of them when they
could get them.

The problem was difficult to solve. A case in point had lately come
under my observation. A man had been brought into our hospital with a
crushed ankle, the cars having run over it. He had been attended to,
and the leg put in splints before we had received him, so as he was
still heavy and drowsy, possibly from some anodyne administered, the
surgeon in attendance ordered him to be left undisturbed. The nurse in
a few hours came to me to say that the man was suffering intensely.
He had a burning fever, and complained of the fellow leg instead of
the injured one. The natural idea of sympathy occurred, and a sedative
given which failed in producing any effect. I determined to look at it
in spite of orders, his sufferings appearing so great, and finding the
foot and leg above and below the splint perfectly well, the thought
of examining the fellow leg suggested itself. It was a most shocking
sight—swollen, inflamed and purple—the drunken surgeon had set the
wrong leg! The pain induced low fever, which eventually assumed a
typhoid form, and the man died. With this instance fresh in my memory
I hesitated to give any opinion in favor, and yet felt we could not
manage without the liquor. However, the appropriation was made.

                   _Scribbled Eggs and Flitters._

This poor fellow was the most dependent patient I ever had, and though
entirely uneducated, won his way to my sympathies by his entire
helplessness and belief in the efficacy of my care and advice. No
surgeon in the hospital could persuade him to swallow anything in the
shape of food unless I sanctioned the order, and a few kindly words, or
an encouraging nod would satisfy and please him. His ideas of luxuries
were curious, and his answer to my daily inquiries of what he could
fancy for food, was invariably the same—he would like some “scribbled
eggs and flitters.” This order was complied with three times daily,
until the doctor prescribed stronger food and though many dainties
were substituted, he still called them by the same name, leading me to
suppose that “scribbled eggs and flitters” was his generic term for

                        _Un-chew-able Food._

I made him some jelly—Confederate jelly—with the substitution of
whiskey for Madeira wine, and citric acid for lemons, but he said “he
did not like it, there was no chewing on it,” and “it all went, he did
not know where!” so I gave up trying to tempt his palate.


                     _Culinary Mortifications._

When whole wards would be emptied of their occupants, in compliance
with changes made to suit certain views of the surgical department, and
strangers put in, I would always feel a great repugnance to visiting
them. But when the change became gradual, by the convalescents, in
twos or threes or half-dozens, being exchanged for invalids, there
would always be enough men left to whom I was known, to make me feel
at home, and to inform the newcomers why I came among them, and what
my duties were. I now found my hospital filled with strangers. They
were not so considerate as my old friends had been, and looked rather
with suspicion upon my daily visits. One man amused me particularly by
keeping a portion of his food every day for my special and agreeable
inspection, as he thought, and my particular annoyance, as I felt. A
specimen of everything he thought unpalatable was deposited under his
pillow, to await my arrival, and the greeting invariably given me was:

“Do you call that good bread?”

“Well no, not very good: but the flour is very dark and musty.”

Another day he would draw out a handfull of dry rice.

“Do you call _that_ properly boiled?”

“That is the way we boil rice in Carolina. Each grain must be

“Well! I won’t eat mine boiled that way.”

                     _Pickles_ versus _Homespun._

And so on through all the details of his food. Somebody he felt
was responsible, and unfortunately he determined that I should be
the scapegoat. His companion who laid by his side was even more
disagreeable than he was. Being a terrible pickle consumer, he indulged
in such extreme dissipation in that luxury that a check had to be
put upon his appetite. He attacked me upon this grievance the first
chance he found, and listened scornfully to my remarks that pickles
were luxuries to be eaten sparingly and used carefully. “Perhaps,”
he said at last, “we would have more pickles if you had fewer new
dresses.” There was no doubt that I wore a new homespun dress, but what
connection it had with the pickles was rather mysterious. However, that
afternoon came a formal apology, written in quite an elegant style, and
signed by every man in the ward, except the pickle man, in which the
fault of this cruel speech was laid upon the bad whiskey.


                      _Beginning of the End._

All this winter of ’64, the city had been unusually gay. Besides
parties, private theatricals and tableaux were constantly exhibited.
Wise and thoughtful men disapproved openly of this mad gayety. There
was certainly a painful discrepancy between the excitement of dancing
and the rumble of ambulances that could be heard in the momentary lull
of the music, carrying the wounded to the different hospitals. Young
men advocated this state of affairs, arguing that after the fatigues
and dangers of a campaign in the field, some relaxation was necessary
on their visits to the capital.

To thinking people this recklessness was ominous; and by the end of
February, 1865, it began to be felt by them that all was not as safe
as it was supposed to be. The incessant moving of troops through the
city from one point to another proved weakness, and the scarcity of
rations issued told a painful tale. People rated the inefficiency
of the commissary department, and predicted that a change in its
administration would make all right. Soon afterwards the truth was told
me in confidence and under promise of strict secresy. Richmond would
be evacuated in a month or six weeks. The time might be lengthened or
shortened, but the fact was established.


Then came the packing up, quietly but surely, of the different
departments. Requisitions on the medical purveyor were returned
unfilled, and an order from the surgeon-general required that herbs
instead of licensed medicines should be used in the hospitals. There
was a great deal of merriment elicited from the “yarb teas,” drawn
during this time by the surgeons; few knowing the sad cause of their
substitution. My mind had been very unsettled as to my course of action
in view of the impending crash, but my duty prompted me to remain with
my sick, on the ground that no general ever deserts his troops. But
to be left by all my friends to meet the dangers and privations of an
invested city, among antagonistic influences, with the prospect of
being turned out of my office the next day after the surrender, was not
a cheering one. Even my home would no longer be open to me; for staying
with a cabinet minister, he would leave with the government. I was
spared the necessity of decision by the sudden attack of General Grant,
and the breaking of the Confederate lines, and before there was time to
think at all, the government and all its train had vanished.



On the 2nd of April, 1865, while the congregation of Dr. Minnegarode’s
church in Richmond were listening to his Sunday sermon, a messenger
entered and handed a telegram to Mr. Davis, then president of the
Confederate States, who rose immediately, and without any visible signs
of agitation or surprise, left the church. No alarm was exhibited
by the congregation, though several members of the president’s
staff followed him, till Dr. Minnegarode brought the service to an
abrupt close, and informed his started flock that the city would be
evacuated shortly, and they would only exercise a proper degree of
prudence by going home immediately, and preparing for the event. This
announcement, although coming from such a reliable source, hardly
availed to convince the Virginians that their beloved capital, assailed
so often, defended so bravely, surrounded by fortifications on which
the engineering talents of their best officers had been expended, was
to be capitulated. Some months before, a small number admitted behind
the vail of the temple had been apprised that the sacrifice was to be
accomplished; that General Lee had again and again urged Mr. Davis to
yield this Mecca of his heart to the interests of the Confederacy, and
resign a city which required an army to hold it, and pickets to be
posted from thirty to forty miles around it, weakening his depleted
army; and again and again had the iron will triumphed, and the foe,
beaten and discomfited, retired for fresh combinations and fresh troops.

But the hour had come, and the evacuation was only a question of time.
Day and night had the whistle of cars proved to the anxious people that
brigades were being moved to strengthen this point or defend that;
and no one was able to say exactly where any portion of the army of
Virginia was stationed. That Grant would make an effort to strike the
South-side railroad—the main artery for the conveyance of food to the
city—every one _knew_; and that General Lee would be able to meet the
effort and check it, everybody _hoped_, and while this hope lasted
there was no panic.

The telegram which reached Mr. Davis that Sunday morning, was to the
effect that the enemy _had_ struck, and on the weakest point of the
Confederate lines. It told him to be prepared in event of the repulse
failing. Two hours after came the fatal news that Grant had forced
his way through, and that the city must instantly be evacuated. What
is meant by that simple sentence “evacuation of the city” but few can
imagine who have not experienced it. The officials of the various
departments hurried to their offices, speedily packing up everything
connected with the government. The quartermaster’s and commissary’s
stores were thrown open and thousands of the half-starved and half-clad
people of Richmond rushed to the scene.

                      _Picture of the Times._

Delicate women tottered under the weight of hams, bags of coffee, flour
and sugar. Invalided officers carried away articles of unaccustomed
luxury for sick wives and children at home. Every vehicle was in
requisition, commanding fabulous remuneration, and gold or silver the
only currency accepted. The immense concourse of government employes,
speculators, gamblers, strangers, pleasure and profit lovers of all
kinds that had been attached to that great center, the Capital, were
“packing,” while those who had determined to stay and await the chances
of war, tried to look calmly on, and draw courage from their faith in
the justness of their cause.

                          _The Departure._

The wives and families of Mr. Davis and his cabinet had been sent
away some weeks previously, so that no provision had been made for the
transportation of any particular class of people. All the cars that
could be collected were at the Fredericksburg depot, and by 3 o’clock
P. M. the trains commenced to move. The scene at the station was of
indescribable confusion. No one could afford to abandon any article of
wear or household use, when going where they knew that nothing could
be replaced. Baggage was as valuable as life, and life was represented
there by wounded and sick officers and men, helpless women and
children, for all who could be with the army were at their post.

Hour after hour fled and still the work went on. The streets were
strewn with torn papers, records and documents too burdensome to
carry away, too important to be left for inspection, and people still
thronged the thoroughfares, loaded with stores until then hoarded by
the government and sutler shops.

The scream and rumble of the cars never ceased all that weary night,
and was perhaps the most painful sound to those left behind, for all
the rest of the city seemed flying; but while the center of Richmond
was in the wildest confusion, so sudden had been the shock that the
suburbs were quiet and even ignorant of the scenes enacting in the
heart of the city. Events crowded so rapidly upon each other that no
one had time to spread reports.

                       _Burning of the City._

There was no change in the appearance of the surroundings till near
midnight, when the school-ship, the _Patrick Henry_, formerly the old
United States ship _Yorktown_, was fired at the wharf at Rocketts
(the extreme eastern end of the city). The blowing up of her magazine
seemed the signal for the work of destruction to commence. Explosions
followed from all points. The warehouses and tobacco manufactories
were fired, communicating the flames to the adjacent houses and shops,
and soon Main street was in a blaze. The armory, not intended to be
burnt, either caught accidentally or was fired by mistake; the shells
exploding and filling the air with hissing sounds of horror, menacing
the people in every direction. Colonel Gorgas had endeavored to spike
or destroy them by rolling them into the canal, and but for this
precaution with the largest, the city would have been almost leveled
to the dust.

                           _Last Scenes._

No one slept during that night of horror, for added to the present
scenes were the anticipations of what the morrow would bring forth.
Daylight dawned upon a wreck of destruction and desolation. From the
highest point of Church hill and Libby hill, the eye could range over
the whole extent of city and country—the fire had not abated, and
the burning bridges were adding their flame and smoke to the scene.
A single faint explosion could be heard from the distance at long
intervals, but the _Patrick Henry_ was low to the water’s edge and
Drewry but a column of smoke. The whistle of the cars and the rushing
of the laden trains still continued—they had never ceased—and the
clouds hung low and draped the scene as morning advanced.

                        _Taking Possession._

Before the sun had risen, two carriages rolled along Main street, and
passed through Rocketts just under Chimborazo hospital, carrying the
mayor and corporation towards the Federal lines, to deliver the keys
of the city, and half an hour afterwards, over to the east, a single
Federal blue-jacket rose above the hill, standing transfixed with
astonishment at what he saw. Another and another sprang up as if out
of the earth, but still all remained quiet. About seven o’clock, there
fell upon the ear the steady clatter of horses’ hoofs, and winding
around Rocketts, close under Chimborazo hill, came a small and compact
body of Federal cavalrymen, on horses in splendid condition, riding
closely and steadily along. They were well mounted, well accoutered,
well fed—a rare sight in Southern streets,—the advance of that vaunted
army that for four years had so hopelessly knocked at the gates of the
Southern Confederacy.

                   _Entrance of the Federal Army_

They were some distance in advance of the infantry who followed, quite
as well appointed and accoutered as the cavalry. Company after company,
regiment after regiment, battalion after battalion, and brigade after
brigade, they poured into the doomed city—an endless stream. One
detachment separated from the main body and marching to Battery No. 2,
raised the United States flag, their band playing the Star Spangled
Banner. There they stacked their arms. The rest marched along Main
street through fire and smoke, over burning fragments of buildings,
emerging at times like a phantom army when the wind lifted the dark
clouds; while the colored population shouted and cheered them on their

Before three hours had elapsed, the troops had been quartered and were
inspecting the city. They swarmed in every highway and byway, rose out
of gullies, appeared on the top of hills, emerged from narrow lanes,
and skirted around low fences. There was hardly a spot in Richmond not
occupied by a blue coat, but they were orderly, quiet and respectful.
Thoroughly disciplined, warned not to give offense by look or act, they
did not speak to any one unless first addressed; and though the women
of the South contrasted with sickness of heart the difference between
this splendidly-equipped army, and the war-worn, wasted aspect of their
own defenders, they were grateful for the consideration shown them; and
if they remained in their sad homes, with closed doors and windows,
or walked the streets with averted eyes and vailed faces, it was that
they could not bear the presence of invaders, even under the most
favorable circumstances.

                     _Occupation of the City._

Before the day was over, the public buildings were occupied by the
enemy, and the minds of the citizens relieved from all fear of
molestation. The hospitals were attended to, the ladies being still
allowed to nurse and care for their own wounded; but rations could
not be drawn yet, the obstructions in the James river preventing the
transports from coming up to the city. In a few days they arrived, and
food was issued to those in need. It had been a matter of pride among
the Southerners to boast that they had never seen a greenback, so the
entrance of the Federal army had thus found them entirely unprepared
with gold and silver currency. People who had boxes of Confederate
money and were wealthy the day previously, looked around in vain for
wherewithal to buy a loaf of bread. Strange exchanges were made on the
street of tea and coffee, flour and bacon. Those who were fortunate in
having a stock of household necessaries were generous in the extreme to
their less wealthy neighbors, but the destitution was terrible.

The sanitary commission shops were opened, and commissioners appointed
by the Federals to visit among the people and distribute orders to draw
rations, but to effect this, after receiving tickets, required so many
appeals to different officials, that decent people gave up the effort.
Besides, the musty corn-meal and strong cod-fish were not appreciated
by fastidious stomachs—few gently nurtured could relish such unfamiliar

                      _Amusements Furnished._

But there was no assimilation between the invaders and invaded. In
the daily newspaper a notice had appeared that the military bands
would play in the beautiful capital grounds every afternoon, but when
the appointed hour arrived, except the Federal officers, musicians
and soldiers, not a white face was to be seen. The negroes crowded
every bench and path. The next week another notice was issued that
the colored population would not be admitted; and then the absence
of everything and anything feminine was appalling. The entertainers
went alone to their own entertainment. The third week still another
notice appeared: “colored nurses were to be admitted with their white
charges,” and lo! each fortunate white baby received the cherished care
of a dozen finely-dressed black ladies, the only drawback being that in
two or three days the music ceased altogether, the entertainers feeling
at last the ingratitude of the subjugated people.

                       _Wicked Ingratitude._

Despite their courtesy of manner, for however despotic the acts, the
Federal authorities maintained a respectful manner—the newcomers made
no advance towards fraternity. They spoke openly and warmly of their
sympathy with the sufferings of the South, but committed and advocated
acts that the hearers could not recognize as “military necessities.”
Bravely-dressed Federal officers met their former old class-mates from
colleges and military institutions and inquired after the relatives to
whose houses they had ever been welcome in days of yore, expressing a
desire to “call and see them,” while the vacant chairs, rendered vacant
by Federal bullets, stood by the hearth of the widow and bereaved
mother. They could not be made to understand that their presence was
painful. There were few men in the city at this time; but the women of
the South still fought their battle for them: fought it resentfully,
calmly, but silently! Clad in their mourning garments, overcome but
hardly subdued, they sat within their desolate homes, or if compelled
to leave that shelter went on their errands to church or hospital with
vailed faces and swift steps. By no sign or act did the possessors of
their fair city know that they were even conscious of their presence.
If they looked in their faces they saw them not: they might have
supposed themselves a phantom army. There was no stepping aside with
affectation to avoid the contact of dress, no feigned humility in
giving the inside of the walk: they simply totally ignored their

                    _Circus and Pictorial Food._

Two particular characteristics followed the army in possession—the
circus and booths for the temporary accommodation of itinerant venders.
The small speculators must have supposed that there were no means of
cooking left in the city, from the quantity of canned edibles they
offered for sale. They inundated Richmond with pictorial canisters at
exorbitant prices, which no one had money to buy. Whether the supply of
greenbacks was scant, or the people were not disposed to trade with
the new-comers, they had no customers.

                     _Distinguished Visitors._

In a few days steamboats had made their way to the wharves, though
the obstructions still defied the ironclads, and crowds of curious
strangers thronged the pavements, while squads of mounted male
pleasure-seekers scoured the streets. Gayly-dressed women began to
pour in also, with looped-up skirts, very large feet, and a great
preponderance of spectacles. The Richmond women sitting by desolated
firesides were astonished by the arrival of former friends, sometimes
people moving in the best classes of society, who had the bad taste
to make a pleasure trip to the mourning city, calling upon their
heart-broken friends of happier days in all the finery of the newest
New York fashions, and in some instances forgiving their entertainers
the manifold sins of the last four years in formal and set terms.


From the hill on which my hospital was built, I had sat all the weary
Sunday of the evacuation, watching the turmoil, and bidding friends
adieu, for even till noon many had been unconscious of the events
that were transpiring, and now when they had all departed, as night
set in, I wrapped my blanket-shawl around me, and watched below me
all that I have here narrated. Then I walked through my wards and
found them comparatively empty. Every man who could crawl had tried
to escape a Northern prison. Beds in which paralyzed, rheumatic, and
helpless patients had laid for months were empty. The miracles of the
New Testament had been re-enacted. The lame, the halt, and the blind
had been cured. Those who were compelled to remain were almost wild at
being left in what would be the enemy’s lines the next day; for in many
instances they had been exchanged prisoners only a short time before.
I gave all the comfort I could, and with some difficulty their supper
also, for my detailed nurses had gone with General Lee’s army, and my
black cooks had deserted me.

                     _Left “alone in my glory.”_

On Monday morning, the day after the evacuation, the first blue
uniforms appeared at our quarters—three surgeons inspecting the
hospital. As our surgeon was with them, there must have been an
amicable understanding. One of our divisions was required for use by
the new-comers, cleared out for them, and their patients laid by the
side of our own sick so that we shared with them, as my own commissary
stores were still well supplied. Three days afterwards an order came to
transfer my old patients to Camp Jackson. I protested bitterly against
this, as they were not in a fit state for removal, so they remained
unmolested. To them I devoted my time, for our surgeons had either then
left or received orders to discontinue their labors.

Towards evening the place was deserted. Miss G. had remained up to this
time with me, but her mother requiring her presence in the city, she
left at sunset, and after I had gone through all my wards, I returned
to my dear little sitting-room, endeared by retrospection, and the
consciousness that my labors were nearly over, but had been (as far as
regarded results) in vain!

                         _Hero re-appears._

The Federal authorities had as yet posted no guards around, and as our
own had been withdrawn, or rather had left, being under no control or
direction, not a sound broke the stillness of the sad night. Exhausted
with all the exciting events of the day, it was not to be wondered at
that I soon fell asleep heavily and dreamlessly, to be awakened in an
hour by the crash of an adjoining door, and passing into my pantry from
whence the sound proceeded I came upon a group of men, who had burst
the entrance opening upon the back premises. As my eye traveled from
face to face, I recognized them as a set of “hospital rats” whom I had
never been able to get rid of, for if sent to the field one week, they
would be sure to be back the next, on some trifling pretext of sickness
or disability. The ringleader was an old enemy, who had stored up many
a grievance against me, but my acts of kindness to his sickly wife
naturally made me suppose his wrath had been disarmed. He acted on this
occasion as spokesman, and the trouble was the old one. Thirty gallons
of whiskey had been sent to me the day before the evacuation, and they
wanted it.

“We have come for the whiskey!”

“You cannot, and shall not have it.”

“It does not belong to you.”

“It is in my charge, and I intend to keep it. Go out of my pantry; you
are all drunk.”

“Boys!” he said, “pick up that barrel and carry it down the hill. I
will attend to _her_!”

                         _Noli me tangere._

But the habit of obedience of four years still had its effect on the
boys, for all the movement they made was in a retrograde direction.

“Wilson,” I said, “you have been in this hospital a long time. Do you
think from what you know of me that the whiskey can be taken without my

He became very insolent.

“Stop that talk; your great friends have all gone, and we won’t stand
that now. Move out of the way!”

He advanced towards the barrel, and so did I, only being in the inside,
I interposed between him and the object of contention. The fierce
temper blazed up in his face, and catching me roughly by the shoulder,
he called me a name that a decent woman seldom hears and even a wicked
one resents.

But I had a little friend, which usually reposed quietly on the shelf,
but had been removed to my pocket in the last twenty-four hours, more
from a sense of protection than from any idea that it would be called
into active service; so before he had time to push me one inch from
my position, or to see what kind of an ally was in my hand, that sharp
click, a sound so significant and so different from any other, struck
upon his ear, and sent him back amidst his friends, pale and shaken.

                   _Victory Perches on my Banner._

“You had better leave,” I said, composedly (for I felt in my feminine
soul that although I was near enough to pinch his nose, that I had
missed him), “for if _one_ bullet is lost, there are five more ready,
and the room is too small for even a woman to miss six times.”

There was a conference held at the shattered door, resulting in an
agreement to leave, but he shook his fist wrathfully at my small

“You think yourself very brave now, but wait an hour; perhaps others
may have pistols too, and you won’t have it entirely your way after

My first act was to take the head of one of the flour barrels and nail
it across the door as tightly as I could, with a two-pound weight for
a hammer, and then, warm with triumph and victory gained, I sat down
by my whiskey barrel and felt the affection we all bestow on what we
have cherished, fought for, and defended successfully; then putting a
candle, a box of matches, and a pistol within reach of my hand, I went
to sleep, never waking until late in the morning, having heard nothing
more of my visitors.

                     _Confederate Full Dress._

The next day the steward informed me that our stores had been taken
possession of by the Federal authorities, so we could not draw the
necessary rations. The surgeons had all left; therefore I prepared for
a visit to headquarters, by donning my full-dress toilette: boots of
untanned leather, tied with thongs; a Georgia woven homespun dress in
black and white blocks—the white, cotton yarn, the black, an old silk,
washed, scraped with broken glass into pulp, and then carded and spun
(it was an elegant thing); white cuffs and collar of bleached homespun,
and a hat plaited of the rye straw picked from the field back of us,
dyed black with walnut juice, a shoe-string for ribbon to encircle
it; and knitted worsted gloves of three shades of green—the darkest
bottle shade being around the wrist, while the color tapered to the
loveliest blossom of the pea at the finger-tips. The style of the make
was Confederate.

                           _Casus belli._

Thus splendidly equipped I walked to Dr. M.’s office, now Federal
headquarters, and making my way through a crowd of blue coats, accosted
the principal figure seated there, with a stern and warlike demand for
food, and a curt inquiry whether it was their intention to starve their
captured sick. He was very polite, laid the blame on the obstructions
in the river, which prevented their transports getting up. I requested
that as such was the case I might be allowed to reclaim my ambulance,
now under their lock and key, in order to take some coffee then in my
possession to the city and exchange it for animal food. It had been
saved from rations formerly drawn, and donations given. He wished to
know why it had not been turned over to the U. S. government, but
did not press the point as I was not communicative, and gave me the
necessary order for the vehicle. Then polite conversation commenced.

                       _The Law of Nations._

“Was I a native of Virginia?”

“No; I was a South Carolinian, who had gone to Virginia at the
commencement of the war to try and aid in alleviating the sufferings
and privations of the hospitals.”

“He had lost a brother in South Carolina.”

“It was the fate of war. Self-preservation was the first law of nature.
As a soldier he must recognize defense of one’s native soil.”

“He regretted the present state of scarcity, for he could see in the
pale faces and pinched features of the Richmond women, how much they
had suffered during the war.”

I retorted quickly this wound to both patriotism and vanity.

He meant to be polite, but that he was unlucky was shown by my answer.

“If my features were pinched, and my face pale, it was not caused by
privations under the Confederacy, but the anguish consequent upon our

But his kindness had once again put my ambulance under my control, and
placing a bag of coffee and a demijohn of whiskey in it, I assumed
the reins, having no driver, and went to market. The expedition was
successful, as I returned shortly with a live calf, for which I had
exchanged them, and which summoned every one within hearing by its
bellowing. I had quite won the heart of the Vermonter who had been
sentry at my door, and though patriotic souls may not believe me, he
paid me many compliments at the expense of the granite ladies of his
State. The compliments were sincere, as he refused the drink of whiskey
my gratitude offered him.

                        _Liberty or Death._

My next visit was to the commissary department of my hospital in search
of sugar. Two Federal guards were in charge, but they simply stared
with astonishment as I put aside their bayonets and unlocked the door
of the place with my pass-key, filled my basket, with an explanation to
them that I could be arrested whenever wanted at my quarters.

After this no one opposed my erratic movements, the new-comers ignoring
me. No explanation was ever given to me, why I was allowed to come and
go, nurse my men and feed them with all I could take or steal. All I
ever gathered was from one of our errand-boys, who had fraternized with
a Yankee sutler, who told him confidentially that the Federal surgeon
in charge thought that woman in black had better go home, and added on
his own responsibility, “He’s awful afraid of her.”

                             _At Last!_

Away I was compelled to go at last, for my sick were removed to another
hospital, where I still attended to them. There congregated the ladies
of the neighborhood, bringing what delicacies they could gather, and
nursing indiscriminately any patient who needed care. This continued
till all the sick were either convalescent or dead, and at last my
vocation was gone, and not one invalid left to give me a pretext for
daily occupation.

And now when the absorbing duties of the last years no longer demanded
my whole thoughts and attention, the difficulties of my own position
forced themselves upon my mind. Whatever food had been provided
for the sick since the Federal occupation had served for my small
needs, but when my duties ceased I found myself with a box full of
Confederate money and a silver ten-cent piece; perhaps a Confederate
_gage d’amitie_; which puzzled me how to expend. It was all I had for
a support, so I bought a box of matches and five cocoa-nut cakes. The
wisdom of the purchase there is no need of defending. Should any
one ever be in a strange country where the currency of which he is
possessed is valueless, and ten cents be his only available funds,
perhaps he may be able to judge of the difficulty of expending it with

                      _The Mother of States._

But of what importance was the fact that I was houseless, homeless
and moneyless, in Richmond, the heart of Virginia? Who ever wanted
for aught that kind hearts, generous hands or noble hospitality could
supply, that it was not there offered without even the shadow of a
patronage that could have made it distasteful? What women were ever so
refined in feeling and so unaffected in manner; so willing to share all
that wealth gives, and so little infected with the pride of purse that
bestows that power? It was difficult to hide one’s needs from them;
they found them out and ministered to them with their quiet simplicity
and the innate nobility which gave to their generosity the coloring of
a favor received; not conferred.

                           _My Thanks._

I laughed carelessly and openly at the disregard shown by myself for
the future, when every one who had remained in Richmond, apparently
had laid aside stores for daily food, but they detected with quick
sympathy the hollowness of the mirth, and each day at every hour of
breakfast, dinner and supper, would come to me a waiter, borne by the
neat little Virginia maid (in her white apron), filled with ten times
the quantity of food I could consume, packed carefully on. Sometimes
boxes would be left at my door, with packages of tea, coffee, sugar and
ham, or chicken, and no clue given to the thoughtful and kind donor.

Would that I could do more than thank the dear friends who made my
life for four years so happy and contented; who never made me feel by
word or act, that my self-imposed occupation was otherwise than one
which would ennoble any woman. If ever any aid was given through my own
exertions, or any labor rendered effective by me for the good of the
South—if any sick soldier ever benefited by my happy face or pleasant
smiles at his bedside, or death was ever soothed by gentle words of
hope and tender care, such results were only owing to the cheering
encouragement I received from them.

                          _And Gratitude._

They were gentlewomen in every sense of the word, and though they might
not have remembered that “_noblesse oblige_” they felt and acted up to
the motto in every act of their lives. My only wish was to live and die
among them, growing each day better from contact with their gentle,
kindly sympathies and heroic hearts.

It may never be in my power to do more than offer my heartfelt thanks,
which may reach their once happy homes; and in closing these simple
reminiscences of hospital experience, let me beg them to believe
that whatever kindness my limited powers have conferred on the noble
soldiers of their State, has been repaid tenfold, leaving with me an
eternal, but grateful obligation.


                             _The End._

There is one subject connected with hospitals on which a few words
should be said—the distasteful one that a woman must lose a certain
amount of delicacy and reticence in filling any office in them. How can
this be? There is no unpleasant exposure under proper arrangements, and
if even there be, the circumstances which surround a wounded man, far
from friends and home, suffering in a holy cause and dependent upon a
woman for help, care and sympathy, hallow and clear the atmosphere in
which she labors. That woman must indeed be hard and gross, who lets
one material thought lessen her efficiency. In the midst of suffering
and death, hoping with those almost beyond hope in this world; praying
by the bedside of the lonely and heart-stricken; closing the eyes of
boys hardly old enough to realize man’s sorrows, much less suffer by
man’s fierce hate, a woman _must_ soar beyond the conventional modesty
considered correct under different circumstances.

If the ordeal does not chasten and purify her nature, if the
contemplation of suffering and endurance does not make her wiser and
better, and if the daily fire through which she passes does not draw
from her nature the sweet fragrance of benevolence, charity, and
love,—then, indeed a hospital has been no fit place for her!


[1] Richard Hammond Key, grandson of Francis Barton Key, author of
“Star Spangled Banner.”

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Obvious punctuation errors have been corrected.

Other errors have been corrected as follows:

  Page 75 – “unconsious” changed to “unconscious” (I sat by the boy,
            unconscious himself that any)

  Page 105 – “Petersburgh” changed to “Petersburg” (blowing up of the
             mine at Petersburg)

  Page 118 – “to go their” changed to “to go to their” (if allowed to
             go to their families)

  Page 129 – “Missisippi” changed to “Mississippi” (down in Mississippi)

  Page 139 – “Fredericksburgh” changed to “Fredericksburg” (at the
             Fredericksburg station)

  Page 166 – “started” changed to “startled” (informed his startled

  Page 167 – “made” changed to “make” (That Grant would make an effort)

  Page 174 – “neighbers” changed to “neighbors” (less wealthy neighbors)

Obsolete spelling that was common for its time has been retained.
Variations in hyphenation have been regularised if a generally agreed
usage was observed but left unchanged otherwise.

Page headers that appear in the book are included in this transcribed
text as section headings.

The single footnote has been re-indexed using a number and moved to the
end of the book.

The cover image was created by Thiers Halliwell and is placed in the
public domain.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Southern Woman's Story" ***

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