IRISH EMIGRATION DATABASE DOCUMENTS OF THE MONTH ARCHIVE
B. M. Smyth, Co. Tyrone to J. A. Smyth, Canada
Copyright Retained by Mr & Mrs J Smyth, Castledamph, Plumbridge,
Co Tyrone, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr & Mrs J Smyth, Castledamph, Plumbridge.
LOG Document added by LT, 20:01:2004.
Front of Envelope
Envelope addressed to
Mr. James. A. Smyth
Essex Box 234
Back of Envelope
Dec 25 00
By the date
of this letter you will
see that its Xmas day
and as I was not busy I
thought of writing. Its
very quiet around here
there has been a few shots at
Elkins and that is all you
can hear. It is raining
pretty heavy all day so no
fun is kept up, John C Tommy
and Bob Campbell Eden Mills went
to hunt in the morning with their
guns and a greyhound but they saw
nothing and came back at twelve o
clock They are away round our own
fields now, John got a breech loader
from Mr James for a good days hunting
but is badly dissapointed.
Mary has just came up from
Gilkys she went down to Tilda a few
minutes and she says she is very lonely.
There was no one in all day except
father and Willie John a few minutes
we all miss Willie today and tonight
When I talk of Xmas I may tell you our
presents, mother got a black shawl from
Mrs Nelson value 7s 3 lbs of tea from Miss
James. The Master was up with it last night
1 lb of tea and a fruit loaf from Aunt
Rebecca 2 pots of jam from Miss Mary Duncan
I think mother got the most Mary got a pair
of gloves from Mrs. Nelson and John got
a silk handkerchief but I cant say who its from
each of us got a card from the Miss Dunbars
and from Gortin: Mary Dunbar came home on Friday
and Beck says for us to be ready to go down some
day before she goes away. I must stop now as
dinner is ready I will finish tomorrow.
Today is dry not so unpleasant as
yesterday John is away hunting he and a few
others Charles McCullagh Joseph Ballantine
R.J.C and some others. Wm [William] is
learning a song to sing at a lecture on the
3rd inst. I think they told you of our last
in the Meeting house the subject this time
is on the war Wm [William] was down in Mr
Steens on Monday night: giving a £1 for the
century fund so Mrs Steen gave him music and
words for. "Hearts of oak" and told him to
learn it for that night, James Houston had
it but more of an orange nature. Mr Steen is
for giving a lecture once a month during the
winter. We rec [received?] your letter last
week after waiting for a good while but you
give us the reason for the delay so we must
be content, you will have three weeks of
waiting also, so you may wonder whats up
with us. We see by your letter that you are
getting enough partys [parties?] in that place and
stylish ones too but Im afraid the [they]
are heavy on the cash, but its better
fretting away the time.
How do you like teaching now I suppose
by this time you are well used to it. Teachers
in this country will not get their money for
nothing now either: they have to learn drill
of all sorts drawing: singing and everything.
It is changed all together this year all
done in a new style, But will give the teachers
some trouble and cost as well. if they have to
pay for what they want.
Last day I was in Strabane Mr Conroy was asking
about you: he still enquires how you are getting
on: The Miss Gordons asks for you too: none of
their people was home for xmas neither Jamie nor
Willie. The two Miss McKelveys of this town is
away in Co Down with the school master and Jamie
RIC is home for a few days, so nearly everyone
moves some place about Xmas.
We have spent some more time making changes
in and out of the house. A few days ago father
removed the small bed and took down the partition,
so now we have it open it looks better and not so
dark up the stairs. The bed was not much use as two
could hardly sleep in it any time and we didnt use
it in the winter time as it was very cold.
We intend to get one made and keep it in the kitchen
And when we dont need it it will make a good seat:
a settle bed or whatever they call them.
Father and Tom is clearing behind the house and
burning the large stone that came in to the wall
we intend to get a churning machine shortly so it
must be rid. We want them to open a back door and
fix the front and build a good wall up the pad they,
may do it some time yet and we intend to cement the
kitchen floor, Father says we should have built
a new house and it might please us as we are all
ways [always] changing this one.
We are all in good health at present hoping you enjoy the
same So Good Bye for the present Wishing you a happy new
year and we hope to see you before next Xmas.
B. M. S. [Bella M Smyth?]
J C Smyth, New York, to J A Smyth, Ontario
Copyright Retained by Mr & Mrs J Smyth, Castledamph, Plumbridge, Co Tyrone, email@example.com
Mr & Mrs J Smyth, Castledamph, Plumbridge.
Front of envelope
Mr Jas [torn]
Back of envelope
Rosebank Staten Island Sep 16th 07
I am just after completing a letter to send home so I though
[thought?] I would write to you and let you know that I am well
& enjoying good health. I suppose you see by the papers of this
Monster of the Sea The "Lusitania"she got into N York [New York?] Sat a [at?] 11 30 am the largest Steamer in the world 790 feet long carries over 3000 she made the trip in 5d [5 days?]2h [2 hours?] 34m [34 minutes?]she did not beat the record held by the German boat "Dutchland" ["Deutschland"] which every body [everybody?] though [thought?] shewould she was 2 hours late they had fog to contend with & thatm kept them back. her best days run [5?]73 mls. & the German got into the papers says its the wonder of the world no stair ways [stairways?] all elevators its a moving Hotel the paper says I went to see her sat I was within 10 feet of her bow she fills the dock west 14 street the dock is 800 feet long it seems to fit her nicely you
talk about crowds going to look at any thing [anything?] it was
enormous & I believe the crowd was greater yesterday "Sunday"
Wensday [Wednesday?] the public will be admitted her sister ship
is coming on her maiden trip in Oct the same dimensions speed
& Tonnage also They are built on the Clide [Clyde?] "Scotland"
The White Star Line is getting plans ready for 4000 tons which is
to surpass any afloat
You talk about your Caledonia she aint in it any more
This boat has got them all skinned a mile in every way by the accounts in the papers she got the best salute of any ship that ever entered N York [New York?] harbour
There was a flag 59 put up on the Singer building
the highest in the city or probably in the world as a token of Welcom [Welcome?] all the boats gave her a salute as she came along we stopped work to take a look at her as she was passing it surprized [surprised?] some of them what they can turn out
over there if fact (sic)they admit they are ahead
I must close
J C S [Smyth?]
Transcribed by Alan Houston
Life in the American Army. 1862. McCarter.
T 2406: Copied by Permission of Miss Isobel Hall,
The Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
LOG Document added by LT, 14:03:03.
Life in the American Army,
Revised & Improved.
"My Life in the Army,"
Dedicated to my Mother; and to my daughters.
Arrived at Acquia Creek, va. [Virginia? on the way to Washington. 1
Potomac Steamboats crowded with wounded soldiers 2
from Fredericksburg. 2
Sisters of Mercy.-kind acts etc. 2
Arrival in Washington. 4
Taken to the Eckington Hospital near Washington. 5
Enter the Hospital-Surgical examination-Zoory, 5
the French nurse-The head Surgeon's opinion 5
of my wounds-Description of the Hospital- 5
Doctor Edling. 5
Reported killed in the "Philada. [Philadelphia?] Sunday Dispatch," 9
Wound getting worse, etc. 9
Fearful of amputation. 10
Removal to more comfortable quarters, & fears dispelled. 12
A mysterious friend in Alexandria, va [Virginia?]. 12
Splendid living-home-like comforts-amusements &c. 13
mysterious , friend, "General Meagher." 15
Visit of President Lincoln 15
"Sister of Mercy" specially kind to me. 16
A Water Bed. 17
Order issued for all wounded soldiers here, to 18
be sent to their own State Hospitals. 18
Leaving for Philadelphia, & arrived there. 18
Cooper Shop Volunteer Refreshment Saloon. 19
Welcome home from the War. 19
Transferred to the Christian Street Hospital. 20
Discharged by Doctor John J. Reese. Surgeon. 21
in charge, from the Military Service of 21
the United States, May 12th 1863. 21
Conclusion. Sketch of my Private life &c. 22
Statistics of the War for the Union. 29
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Notes and Memorandums of My Soldier-Life in the War for the Union, 1861 to 1865, In the Union Army, (Army of the Potomac) VOL.XL (continued from Vol.10.)
Acquia Creek, Virginia.
Tuesday Night, 10 o'clock.
December 16th 1862.
On the arrival of our
train at this place at 10 o'clock, a company of soldiers (about 100 men) were
in waiting to assist our wounded from the cars to steamboats (on the Potomac)
which were to carry them to Alexandria & Washington. The warf was close
by, where 3 large steamers awaited their cargo of sick & wounded soldiers
from the battle-field of Fredericksburg. Our party numbered 700 or 800 men,
& as many of them were very severly wounded, their safe removal, from
the cars to the boats was no easy matter, & several hours were taken up
in doing it. I proceeded at once on board of one of the boats already pretty
well packed with passengers like myself, & feeling tired, as well as suffer-
ing much pain from my wounds. I sought a quiet place for rest & sleep.
The cabins were full of wounded men, every bench and seat being occupied by
them, & even the floor. Seeing a vacant spot on the lower deck, under
the shaft of the paddle wheels, I there seated myself but did not long enjoy
it, for in less than an hour the wheels commenced to revolve, throwing water
over me, & making my hasty retreat necessary. I then went to the bow of
boat, where I found a large coil of rope hollow in the centre, & crawling
into the vacany, hoped there to get repose, but even here I was soon found
out. On board were a number of " Sisters of Mercy" acting as Nurses,
and doing all in their power to alleviate the terrible sufferings of our sick,
wounded & dying soldiers. And here, I must pay my tribute of respect &
praise to those noble; self-sacrificing women-ladies-well & truly named
"Sisters of Mercy,"- God bless them. And in my own case will relate
an incident showing the interest that they took, not only in myself, but also
in all the other wounded men on board, to make them as happy & comfortable
as their circumstances permitted. It is as follows:- I had been lying inside
the coil of rope for about 20 minutes when one of these good women approaching,
saw me, & walking up to my side, said, in the most feeling manner, "Are
you wounded." Yes, Madam, was my reply. "Poor, fellow-is it severely."
Pretty badly, said I. "Well, you feel cold there, don't you. I will see
if I can get room for you in the cabin, but as it is so crowded with your
unfortunate comrades, wounded like yourself, I fear I shall not succeed- but
I ll try." She then darted away, and I was again alone, listening to
the groans of many of my suffering companions, & the waves of the Potomac
dashing against the bows & sides of our good and staunch steamboat ploughing
her way through its dark waters to Washington. In 10 minutes the lady returned,
carrying over her arm a new, heavy army blanket which she spread upon me,
saying, that every spot in the cabin was occupied, & that room for me
there could not be found. But, said she, this blanket will be of use to you,
and here, reaching me a tin cup 1/2 filled with some liquid, she said, "Drink
this down,- it will warm you up." I asked her what it was. "Good
Brandy" said she.-and I drank it. Now, she added, I will bring, or send
you in a few minutes, some bread & coffee, and these will strengthen you
on your passage up the river. She then left me again, & in about 10 minutes
returned with a brimming tin cup of the delicious, hot beverage & 2 slices
of buttered bread, for which I yet had plenty of room, after which she bid
me good- bye, wishing me a quiet comfortable night, and adding that her pressence
in other parts of the boat was required. This class of good Samaritans I will
have occasion to speak of again, and will now leave those on board of our
Potomac steamer in the performance of their works of faith and labors of love.
It was now 1/2 past 11 o'clock, soon after which I fell asleep & did not
awake till nearly 3 in the morning.- the most refreshing slumber & rest
that I had for several days prior to the Battle of Frederickburg. We were
now nearing Alexandria, but did not stop there as expected, and at about 8
o'clock in the morning the steamer touched her wharf in Washington.
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Washington, D.C. Wednesday
December 17th 1862.
The morning was clear
& mild for the season, & as we landed from the boat, the long lines
of am- bulances & omnibuses along the wharfs, awaiting our arrival to
convey us to the various hospitals in the city & its suburbs, were soon
filled, & started for their destinations. I, with 9 of my unfortunate
comrades of various regiments, was consigned to a large omnibus drawn by 4
horses, & after a drive of about an hour we arrived at the "Eckington
Army Hospital." situated near the line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad,
2 miles out of Washington. The buildings comprising this hospital were 2 in
number; each about 100 feet long, 20 wide & one story high. They were
of wood & only temporary, yet with the aid of 3 large stores in each building,
plenty of good, warm & clean bed-clothing & a super abundance of good
eatables, the occupants were made easy & comfortable.
On entering the hospital, we were met by the head Surgeon, Doctor Storrow, & nurses (discharged Union soldiers) the former ordering immediately each wounded man to be well bathed, & his wounds washed in warm water; preparatory to Surgical examination. I was then ushered into one of the bath rooms, accompanied by a nurse-a Frenchman speaking very bad English, but a first-rate fellow as I afterwards found out. He had been in our Army & was wounded at "Bull Run," after which, being unfit for duty in the field, he was detailed for hospital service. His name was "Zoory." I need hardly say, that it was no easy, or pleasant matter, the removal from my body of my dirty & bloody clothing, but after it was done the change was certainly most agreeable. My wounds now being well washed & clean, Zoory notified the Doctor. I was standing undressed as he entered the little room. He stood silently for a minute, eyeing me from head to feet, & then said, "Well, my man, the Rebels must have had a spite at you." I smiled. Now, said he, "Which is your worst wound." I told him, after which he examined it very closely, and shaking his head, "terribly shattered-terribly shattered,- had that bullet hit you the 16th part of an inch higher up, nothing could have saved you-you would have bled to death." Then after directing the nurse to commence poulticing the wound with flaxseed meal, & to place me in a bed near a store, he said to me encouragingly, "we'll try & make a pretty good arm of it yet for you." He then left,- my nurse dressed my wounds, & showed me to my bed.
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There were 50 beds in this building, 25 on either side, 11 of which were occupied on our arrival, but by 8 o'clock the same night all of them were filled with wounded soldiers from the Battle of Fredericksburg.
At 2 o'clock; I partook of the first good dinner since my departure from Philadelphia on the 1st of September. It consisted of plenty of boiled chicken buttered bread, hot coffee & mince pie, & was served by 3 ladies of a Corps of the "Sister's of Mercy" on duty at this place, and whose temporary residence here was in a beautiful private mansion occupied by the head Surgeon, his aids & several wounded Army Officers. This mansion was within 50 yards of the hospital buildings, and at the opening of the war, was confiscated by the U.S. Government who used it now as above stated, in connection with the Eckington Hospital.
Nothing unusual transpired during the afternoon, but at 11 o'clock at night, a poor fellow who had been wounded in the throat by a musket ball, died in great agony, and at 3 o'clock; another unfortunate, wounded in being run over; & terribly bruised by a gun carriage, died in great pain. Next morning, the 18th, snow had fallen 6 inches deep, covering the windows of our new quarters as with a blind. I thought of my old comrades down on the Rappahannock, & my own comfortable quarters as compared with theirs exposed to the winter storm and the deadly shots of the exalting foe. At 8 o'clock the patients were visited by the Ward Surgeon, Dr. Edling. A New Yorker; & a gentleman in every respect who examined each man s wounds minutely. & operated upon them when necessary, leaving such directions with the nurses as each case required. Visits were made by the Ward Surgeon, often accompanied by the Head Surgeon & young Students, to the patients each morning at 9 o'clock, & each evening at 7 o'clock, & sometimes during the day, as cases demanded. These visits were often the occasion of much interest & curiosty to the inmates of the wards, & frequently elicited from the Surgeons themselves a good joke, or a hearty laugh. For 3 weeks after this time, instead of my wound in my right arm healing, & becoming less painful, it gradually became worse, causing me constant uneasiness & suffering, & almost depriving me of sleep. I rapidly lost flesh & became very weak, but strange to say, my appetite continued good, which Dr. Edling said was the only, favorable symptom in my case. Not being able now to write to my family in Philadelphia, whom I, felt sure were uneasy about me after the great battle, particulars of which had been published by the press all over the country, I got one of my hospital companions to do it for me. A few days after, I received a reply, & and with it, a copy of the "Philada. [Philadelphia?]Sunday Dispatch" (date forgotten) giving an account of the Fredericksburg Slaughter, (as it was called) and a list of the names of the Pennsylvania troops killed, wounded & missing in it, and much to my suprise I found my own name among the killed. I hardly need say that my letter to my home quickly dispelled the gloom & sadness which this wrong newspaper statement had caused to my family & friends in Philadelphia. I had been in this declining condition for perhaps 5 weeks, when Dr. Edling, one morning seemed to take more than usual interest in my case. On entering the ward he came right to my side, sat down on my bed, & took close observations of me, and then rising & leaving me without saying a word, went out of the building without stopping to visit any of the other patients. I did not know what to make of this, but felt sure that something new in my case was up. I had passed a sleepless night. My arm, which a few days before had commenced to swell near the shoulder, was now swollen to twice its natural size, assuming a sickening & revolting appearance. I had not before thought the wound dangerous, but now, seeing my arm in such a condition, & turning black, I felt scared,-mortification, amputation &c haunting my mind, and racking pain my body. In 20 minutes the Doctor returned accompanied by the head Surgeon (Dr: Starrow) and 2 Students. They walked to my bed, and seating themselves upon another then unoccupied close to mine, they asked me several questions regarding my feelings, appetite, sleeping &c. Then, after again closely examining my wound &, saying something among themselves, they left me apparently undecided about what was best to be done for me. I lay down then upon my bed with no agreeable thoughts, but at 1 o'clock ate a hearty dinner of roast beef, potatoes, bread, mince pie, and a glass of bitter ale, the latter, Dr. Edling having ordered for me.
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Nothing of note occured [occurred?] till about 4 o'clock, when Zoory (my nurse) coming into the Ward with a suit of new uniform hanging on his arm, walked up to me, presenting Uncle Sam's clothing to me, said, "Dr. Edling has sent you these, & wishes you to report to him in the head Surgeon's office as soon as possible.
NOTE,- It will be remembered
that the head Surgeon's office (Dr. Storrow's) was in the confiscated mansion
some 50 yards distant from the building in which I now was. He & his family
temporarily resided there. The, first thought that now struck me was "amputation,"
sure, for the amputating room was either in this mansion, or adjoining it.
I never knew what "fear" in the Army was, till now. I could stand
the fatigue of the long march under a burning sun, or the pelting storm, and
the pain & horror of the bloody battle- field, but the idea of having
my "right arm" cut off completely broke down my courage. I asked
the nurse what I was wanted for at the house, (as the mansion was familiarly
called among the Boys) but he only replied with a smile, which increased my
fears of amputation, "I don't know,- the Doctor's are there & want
to see your arm,- they have just taken a poor fellow's leg off." Well,
said I, I suppose I must go. He then assisted me to change my clothing, after
which I accompanied him to the house. I was at once ushered into Dr. Storrow's
office where I found that gentleman, Dr. Edling and 3 other Surgeons. I was
very nervous, but owing to the manner in which I was received, I soon regained
composure. Dr. Edling helped me to uncover my wound, & explained to those
present what he thought concerning it, & the nature & extent of the
injury &c. After a few minutes conversation, he asked me if I still suffered
much pain. I said Yes. Then I resolved to know the worst, and said,"Doctor,
I hope my arm will not have to be taken off." With a good natured smile
he replied, "Oh no,- I hope that will not be necessary.- but you have
a darned bad arm Mac." Now, said he, "we have brought you here to
much more quiet & comfortable quarters, & where you will receive our
best attention,- I had a letter from a particular friend of yours to-day,
now in Alexandria, who wants you to be well cared for,- He is a friend of
my own too,- but I'll tell you more about this again." Who this friend
was, in Alexandria," I could not imagine. Dr. Edling now left the room,
and in a few minutes returned with Edward, (I forgot his surname) the Nurse
in charge of the mansion house patients. He was an Englishman, had served
in the Federal Army & was wounded at "Balls Bluff," after which,
he was detailed for hospital duty. He was well educated, intelligent, and
one in whom I soon found a friend, and congenial company. The Dr. introduced
me as his new patient, & directed him to give me one of the 2 unoccupied
beds in his ward for wounded officers, 4 of whom were now in it. This ward
contained only 6 beds. My new nurse took me into it - a very large room in
the rear of the building, on the first floor, from the windows of which a
beautiful & extensive view of the surrounding country was had. The room
was clean & tidy almost to a fault, and a bright fire of coal burned in
a large open grate, giving the apartment an exceedingly cheerful & home-like
appearance. He then introduced me to my four new companions, one of whom was
a Captain wounded in the leg.- two were 1st Lieutenants, one wounded in the
wrist, and the other in the neck,- and a Sergeant Major terribly injured in
a certain part of the body, from which he died. At 6 o'clock, supper was served
- hot coffee, bread & butter, preserves, and cold meat in abundance, &
a glass of pure milk to those who wished it. The rest of the evening was spent
smoking, seated in large arm chairs around the fire, and in reading newspapers
with which we were liberally & daily supplied from Washington, New York,
and occasionally from Philadelphia. Card & Chess playing was often indulged
in, & conversation some-times of an elevating character, & sometimes
not. Our quarters, in fact, were elegant, & as for the food &c, both
in quantity, quality & variety, it surpassed any thing in the way of "good
living that I had experienced in America. No restrictions whatever were put
on the inmates of this ward. They were free to roam the adjoining woods, well
stocked with game, which exercise & amusement I frequently indulged in
there, when able to do so. And here, in the midst of so much comfort &
quietness, my mind often reverted to our brave Boys down on the Rappahannock,
fighting the battles of our country, amid the snows & storms of winter,
and many a time did I wish that I could have shared my comforts with them.
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Next morning at 9 o'clock, Dr. Edling paid us his usual professional visit. I was the last to be examined by him, & when my turn arrived, he sat down on the bed by my side, & taking a letter from his pocket, opened it, then covering the writer's signature with his hand, held the letter before me, saying, "Now, Mac. Whose fist is that." I at once recognized it to be Gen. Meagher's. The Doctor smiled as he replied, Yes - you are right Mac.- he is a good friend of yours, and this letter contains his special request to me to take the best of care of you here. Well, Doctor, said I, How did he know that I was here. He again smiled & replied, "Oh you know Thomas Francis" is a pretty smart fellow, never looses [loses?] the track of any one that he takes a fancy to, and I can assure you that you are no exception." The General, said the Doctor in leaving the room, wants you to write to him as soon as you are able, & give him all particulars about your condition future movements &c. I never could find out how Gen. Meagher knew that I was here in this hospital, nor did I know that he had been taken to Alexandria, after the Battle of Fredericksburg, till informed by Dr. Edling. NOTE,- owing to the very painful & unfavourable state of my wound, I was unable to write Gen. Meagher from this hospital. On the day following my arrival here, President Lincoln visited the Hospital, passing hurridly [hurriedly?] from one ward to another. Upon entering mine,he stopped, near the door, and said,in a quiet, pleasing manner, "I can't stay. Boys - I hope you are all comfortable & getting along nicely - Good bye,-" He then left. During my stay here, we received many visits from the good ladies of Washington, who brought us tobacco, fruit &c & plenty of reading matter, & always a word of sympathy & encouragement. I was the recipient of every possible act of kindness & care that the officers of the Institution could extend to me, and, here again, surely God's hand was visible in casting my lot in such a pleasant place. And I shall never forget the motherly attention & kindness shown me by one of the good "Sisters of Mercy" who visited our ward 2 or 3 times a day to inquire about our health & comfort. She never came empty - handed, nor without words of cheer & consolation. To myself in particular; she was very kind, every morning at 11 o'clock bringing me a glass of wine & a few cakes, & every afternoon an orange, or an apple. She seemed strangely interested in me, & had she been my own sister she could not have done more for me. To my ward companions, she was equally attentive in many respects, doing everything in her power to promote their comfort & happiness & restoration to health. In addition to our amusements here we were often favored with good music in the evenings, by a band who often entertained us till 11 o'clock at night, making the time pass by very pleasantly.
In this ward there was a piece of furniture, a novelty to me. It was a "water bed" occupied by a severly wounded Lieutenant of a New England regiment. His injuries were of such a character that the Surgeons ordered this kind of a bed for him, but poor fellow, he died soon after, and his body was taken home by his friends to Maine. This bed was made of gum, perfectly air tight except in one corner in which was a brass nozzle that could be opened or closed at will. Every day it was filled, through this nozzle, with 60 gallons of fresh water, & then a blanket was spread upon it, making it, as I was told, not only more comfortable, but warmer than the softest feather bed, & better adapted to very sick and weak persons.
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My health now was improving, & my wound, although still very painful showed, at least to myself, signs of healing. But, my Doctor thought otherwise, for when I asked him about it he frankly told me that he would rather see it kept open, till the broken bones inside had all worked out, as it never would heal up permanently till then. This was discouraging, but when I knew everying was being done for me that could be done, I made my mind easy as to the result. The Doctor never afterwards said anymore to me on the subject, except, that I never could use my arm again in shouldering a musket.
On the evening of the 14th of March (1863) Dr: Edling entered our ward & told us, that according to an order just received from the War Department, all wounded & sick soldiers, who could bear transportation, were to be sent, next day, to their respective State Hospitals. Consequently, myself & 3 others being citizens of other States, were obliged to get ready to leave. In some respects I was sorry that I had to vacate such pleasant & comfortable quarters.
near Washington, D.C.
March 15th 1863.
At 10 o'clock this morning, everything being ready, the inmates, to the number of 147 were driven into the city, to the Washington & Philadelphia Railroad Depot, in large 4 horse omnibuses. Three special cars in a train of nine were for the wounded, returning soldiers, myself one of them. Three Army Surgeons were in charge. A few minutes before 11 o'clock we entered the cars,- at 11, the bell - signal told the engineer to move forward, & 5 minutes after, the iron horse was rushing us along towards Philadelphia to the tune of 30 miles an hour. We arrived in that city at a little after 3 o'clock, pretty well tired of the journey. We were formed in line in the depot, (Broad Street & Washington Avenue) & marched to the Cooper Shop Volunteer Refreshment Saloon where we partook of supper, & were provided with good beds for the night. At the depot we were met by a crowd of people who welcomed us with cheers, and as we marched to our quarters for the night, with bandaged heads, arms, hands & legs, many hardly able to walk, crowds followed us pouring out all kinds of sympathetic expressions, & welcoming us home from the War:- The scene was touching & impressive. Philadelphia, Penna. [Pennsylvania?] March 16th 1863.
It was with feelings of
joy, gratitude & thankfulness to God that I awoke this morning to find
myself, comparatively well, in old Philadelphia once more,- and these, feelings,
deepened as my mind often reverted to Frederickburg's bloody field & its
surroundings, and to my escape there from a terrible death. At 10 o'clock,
breakfast being over, & our wounds dressed, we were again formed in line
& marched to a large building on Christian Street between 9th & 10th
Streets, known then (1863) as "The Christian Street United States Army
Hospital." the Surgeon in charge being Doctor John J. Reese, of Philadelphia,
who I soon found to be a kind hearted christian gentleman. On the same day,
at noon my wife visited me, and my reader may judge what that re-union was.
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During my stay here,
my wound made no progress in healing, nor the pain in abating. The patients
received professional visits from the Surgeons every morning at 10 o'clock.
In my own case, nothing whatever was done for my wound, except to wash &
dress it, and this I was often obliged to do myself owing to the scarcity
of nurses, or their bad management & neglect of duty. In regard to the
medical & surgical treatment of patients, - to the quality & variety
of the food that they received & the manner in which it was presented,
to the cleanliness of the Wards, - to the hospitality & sympathy extended
to the inmates to promote their happiness, and cheer them in those hours of
gloom which every wounded soldier undergoing hospital treatment experiences,-
in all of these, the "Christian Street Army Hospital" was far inferior
to the "Eckington" at Washington, and a disgrace to the city of
On the 9th of May, (1863) a general surgical examination of the inmates took place, for the purpose of ascertaining how many of them were again, fit for service in their regiments, & in the field, also to grant discharges from the Service to those who were entitled to them, who were unfit for further military duty. It was, however, at the option of such men to accept of their discharges until the expiration of time for which they had enlisted, during which, the Government was in honor bound to support them, sick or well. When my turn arrived to be examined, the head Surgeon, Dr Reese scrutinized my wound very closely, & said, "Young man, You had better take your Discharge - Your Soldiering Days are over." All right, said I, and the Doctor passed on to the next. On the 12th day of May 1863, Doctor Reese handed me my Discharge, and I was no longer a Soldier of the United States- "My Life in the Army had ended." My term of service although short, owing to the disabling character of my wound for further military duty was very active, & exceedingly instructive to me, and from it I have learned many valuable lessons, which God grant I may never forget, and which may [resound?] to His praise - His honor; & His glory.
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I have written the foregoing Sketch of My Life in the Army, at the solicitation of my family and some of my friends who have frequently requested, me to narrate my experience as a "Soldier in the War for the Union." Owing however; to my unfortunate impediment in Speaking. I have been prevented "verbally from doing so, at least as fully as I would have liked, and have resorted to my "Pen" in the hope, that the effort made in these pages will not only give them the desired information, but may prove amusing & instructive. Making no pretentions whatever to be an "Author," my readers will please overlook & pardon mistakes, many of which, doubtless, have been observed. I have often been asked, "Why I entered the American Army," to which I had, and still have but one answer, namely, My love for my whole adopted country - not the North, nor the South, nor the East, nor the West, but the "Union" one & inseparable,- its form of Government,- its Institutions,- its Stars & Stripes,- its noble, generous, intelligent & brave People ever ready to welcome & extend the hand of friend- ship to the downtrodden & oppressed of every clime & nation, and my determination to assist, in every way that I could, to prevent its dissolution by the traitors of the North as well as of the South who tried to do it. In reference to the "fighting qualities of the Southern Soldiers," I have often heard it said, that their courage & endurance &c was inferior to that of the Northern Soldiers. My own experience, at least, proved that this was not the case, and that in many respects they were superior, and I am of the opinion, that if the South had had the same number of fighting men in her Army as the North had in theirs, the "Southern Confederacy" would have been a settled fact. In "Soldierly qualities," in my humble opinion, the North was in no respect superior to the South. Another matter which my life in the Army convinced me of, was, that in those parts of Maryland. & Virginia occupied by our forces, "Slavery was not that hideous monster that I had heard it represented,"nor was it, as I so often heard it termed" the darkest page in American history." My reader will now please bear in mind that I speak only of my own experience while in the Army, in those States. (Maryland & Virginia) that I have named. Many Slaves that we met, & there were hundreds of them, acknowledged, when asked, that they were not only well provided for, & well taken care of by their Masters, but that they believed they were better off, & happier than they could be if freed from their bondage & compelled to look for employment among the people of the North,- One strong, hearty, young negro said, "that to take him away from "Good Massa" would be worse than pulling his eye teeth." Many similar expressions on the same subject I have heard from both male & female Slaves in Virginia, which forced me to believe that their real condition had not been under- stood by the people of the North, or that it had been grossly misrepresented to them. But to conclude, & close this narrative of my short life in "the War for the Union," it may seem strange to my reader when I say, that for nearly 4 year's after my discharge from the Army, the wound in my "right arm" did not heal, and that during that time 17 pieces of the broken, & the piece of the bullet that could not be extracted when the main part of it was removed, worked out of the wound at about the rate of one piece every 3 months. My arm, however, is now well, but as Dr. Edling of the Eckington Hospital, said, it never would be strong, and it certainly never has, and very often it takes me back in thoughts to the "Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, & its bloody field, on Saturday, December 13th 1862."
"And while one spark
of life is warm
within this mould of clay.
My soul shall revel in the storm
of that tremendous day."
End of my life as a Soldier in the Union Army, in the War for the Union, 1861 to 1865.
Transcribed by Gordon