Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May AlcottFebruary.–Recovered my senses after three weeks of delirium, and was told I had had a very bad typhoid fever, had nearly died, and was still very sick. All of which seemed rather curious, for I remembered nothing of it. Found a queer, thin, big-eyed face when I looked in the glass; didn’t know myself at all; and when I tried to walk discovered that I couldn’t, and cried because my legs wouldn’t go.

Never having been sick before, it was all new and very interesting when I got quiet enough to understand matters. Such long, long nights; such feeble, idle days; dozing, fretting about nothing; longing to eat, and no mouth to do it with,–mine being so sore, and full of all manner of queer sensations, it was nothing but a plague. The old fancies still lingered, seeming so real I believed in them, and deluded Mother and May with the most absurd stories, so soberly told that they thought them true.

Dr. B. came every day, and was very kind. Father and Mother were with me night and day, and May sang “Birks of Aberfeldie,” or read to me, to wile away the tiresome hours. People sent letters, money, kind inquiries, and goodies for the old “Nuss.” I tried to sew, read, and write, and found I had to begin all over again. Received $10 for my labors in Washington. Had all my hair, a yard and a half long, cut off, and went into caps like a grandma. Felt badly about losing my one beauty. Never mind, it might have been my head, and a wig outside is better than a loss of wits inside.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May Alcott(January 1863) On the 21st I suddenly decided to go home, feeling very strangely, and dreading to be worse. Mrs. R. died, and that frightened the doctors about me; for my trouble was the same,–typhoid pneumonia. Father, Miss K., and Lizzie T. went with me. Miss Dix brought a basket full of bottles of wine, tea, medicine, and cologne, besides a little blanket and pillow, a fan, and a testament. She is a kind old soul, but very queer and arbitrary.

Was very sorry to go, and “my boys” seemed sorry to have me. Quite a flock came to see me off; but I was too sick to have but a dim idea of what was going on.

Had a strange, excited journey of a day and night,–half asleep, half wandering, just conscious that I was going home; and, when I got to Boston, of being taken out of the car, with people looking on as if I was a sight. I daresay I was all blowzed, crazy, and weak. Was too sick to reach Concord that night, though we tried to do so. Spent it at Mr. Sewall’s; had a sort of fit; they sent for Dr. H., and I had a dreadful time of it.

Next morning felt better, and at four went home. Just remember seeing May’s shocked face at the depot, Mother’s bewildered one at home, and getting to bed in the firm belief that the house was roofless, and no one wanted to see me.

As I never shall forget the strange fancies that haunted me, I shall amuse myself with recording some of them.

The most vivid and enduring was the conviction that I had married a stout, handsome Spaniard, dressed in black velvet, with very soft hands, and a voice that was continually saying, “Lie still, my dear!” This was Mother, I suspect; but with all the comfort I often found in her presence, there was blended an awful fear of the Spanish spouse who was always coming after me, appearing out of closets, in at windows, or threatening me dreadfully all night long. I appealed to the Pope, and really got up and made a touching plea in something meant for Latin, they tell me. Once I went to heaven, and found it a twilight place, with people darting through the air in a queer way,–all very busy, and dismal, and ordinary. Miss Dix, W. H. Channing, and other people were there; but I thought it dark and “slow,” and wished I hadn’t come.

A mob at Baltimore breaking down the door to get me, being hung for a witch, burned, stoned, and otherwise maltreated, were some of my fancies. Also being tempted to join Dr. W. and two of the nurses in worshipping the Devil. Also tending millions of rich men who never died or got well.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May AlcottJanuary 16th.–Was amazed to see Father enter the room that morning, having been telegraphed to by order of Mrs. R. without asking leave. I was very angry at first, though glad to see him, because I knew I should have to go. Mrs. D. and Miss Dix came, and pretty Miss W., to take me to Willard’s to be cared for by them. I wouldn’t go, preferring to keep still, being pretty ill by that time.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May Alcott(January 1863)

Ordered to keep my room, being threatened with pneumonia. Sharp pain in the side, cough, fever, and dizziness. A pleasant prospect for a lonely soul five hundred miles from home! Sit and sew on the boys’ clothes, write letters, sleep, and read; try to talk and keep merry, but fail decidedly, as day after day goes, and I feel no better. Dream awfully, and wake unrefreshed, think of home, and wonder if I am to die here, as Mrs. R., the matron, is likely to do. Feel too miserable to care much what becomes of me. Dr. S. creaks up twice a day to feel my pulse, give me doses, and ask if I am at all consumptive, or some other cheering question. Dr. O. examines my lungs and looks sober. Dr. J. haunts the room, coming by day and night with wood, cologne, books, and messes, like a motherly little man as he is. Nurses fussy and anxious, matron dying, and everything very gloomy. They want me to go home, but I won’t yet.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May Alcott(January 1863)

Monday, 4th.–I shall record the events of a day as a sample of the days I spend:–

Up at six, dress by gaslight, run through my ward and throw up the windows, though the men grumble and shiver; but the air is bad enough to breed a pestilence; and as no notice is taken of our frequent appeals for better ventilation, I must do what I can. Poke up the fire, add blankets, joke, coax, and command; but continue to open doors and windows as if life depended upon it. Mine does, and doubtless many another, for a more perfect pestilence-box than this house I never saw,–cold, damp, dirty, full of vile odors from wounds, kitchens, wash-rooms, and stables. No competent head, male or female, to right matters, and a jumble of good, bad, and indifferent nurses, surgeons, and attendants, to complicate the chaos still more.

After this unwelcome progress through my stifling ward, I go to breakfast with what appetite I may; find the uninvitable fried beef, salt butter, husky bread, and washy coffee; listen to the clack of eight women and a dozen men,–the first silly, stupid, or possessed of one idea; the last absorbed with their breakfast and themselves to a degree that is both ludicrous and provoking, for all the dishes are ordered down the table full and returned empty; the conversation is entirely among themselves, and each announces his opinion with an air of importance that frequently causes me to choke in my cup, or bolt my meals with undignified speed lest a laugh betray to these famous beings that a “chiel’s amang them takin’ notes.”

Till noon I trot, trot, giving out rations, cutting up food for helpless “boys,” washing faces, teaching my attendants how beds are made or floors are swept, dressing wounds, taking Dr. F. P.’s orders (privately wishing all the time that he would be more gentle with my big babies), dusting tables, sewing bandages, keeping my tray tidy, rushing up and down after pillows, bed-linen, sponges, books, and directions, till it seems as if I would joyfully pay down all I possess for fifteen minutes’ rest. At twelve the big bell rings, and up comes dinner for the boys, who are always ready for it and never entirely satisfied. Soup, meat, potatoes, and bread is the bill of fare. Charley Thayer, the attendant, travels up and down the room serving out the rations, saving little for himself, yet always thoughtful of his mates, and patient as a woman with their helplessness. When dinner is over, some sleep, many read, and others want letters written. This I like to do, for they put in such odd things, and express their ideas so comically, I have great fun interiorally, while as grave as possible exteriorally. A few of the men word their paragraphs well and make excellent letters. John’s was the best of all I wrote. The answering of letters from friends after some one had died is the saddest and hardest duty a nurse has to do.

Supper at five sets every one to running that can run; and when that flurry is over, all settle down for the evening amusements, which consist of newspapers, gossip, the doctor’s last round, and, for such as need them, the final doses for the night. At nine the bell rings, gas is turned down, and day nurses go to bed. Night nurses go on duty, and sleep and death have the house to themselves.

My work is changed to night watching, or half night and half day,–from twelve to twelve. I like it, as it leaves me time for a morning run, which is what I need to keep well; for bad air, food, and water, work and watching, are getting to be too much for me. I trot up and down the streets in all directions, sometimes to the Heights, then half way to Washington, again to the hill, over which the long trains of army wagons are constantly vanishing and ambulances appearing. That way the fighting lies, and I long to follow.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May Alcott

January, 1863. Union Hotel Hospital, Georgetown, D. C.–I never began the year in a stranger place than this: five hundred miles from home, alone, among strangers, doing painful duties all day long, and leading a life of constant excitement in this great house, surrounded by three or four hundred men in all stages of suffering, disease, and death. Though often homesick, heartsick, and worn out, I like it, find real pleasure in comforting, tending, and cheering these poor souls who seem to love me, to feel my sympathy though unspoken, and acknowledge my hearty good-will, in spite of the ignorance, awkwardness, and bashfulness which I cannot help showing in so new and trying a situation. The men are docile, respectful, and affectionate, with but few exceptions; truly lovable and manly many of them. John Sulie, a Virginia blacksmith, is the prince of patients; and though what we call a common man in education and condition, to me is all I could expect or ask from the first gentleman in the land. Under his plain speech and unpolished manner I seem to see a noble character, a heart as warm and tender as a woman’s, a nature fresh and frank as any child’s. He is about thirty, I think, tall and handsome, mortally wounded, and dying royally without reproach, repining, or remorse. Mrs. Ropes and myself love him, and feel indignant that such a man should be so early lost; for though he might never distinguish himself before the world, his influence and example cannot be without effect, for real goodness is never wasted.


Through Some Eventful Years

Through Some Eventful Years by Susan Bradford Eppes

December 27th, 1862.—Mother has a letter in the mail, which has just come telling of dear Grandpa’s illness. He went out on the ice to direct the man who was using the ice plow and took a violent cold. We feel very anxious. Mary Eliza is no better.

The papers say the armies have gone into winter quarters and we will have no more fighting until spring.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May Alcott

Union Hospital Dec. 26th [1862]

My Dear Miss Stevenson,

If I had not been sure that you knew better than I can tell you how little time one gets for letter writing in this big bee hive I should have reproached myself with broken promises, but as you probably have a very realizing sense of my employments I will make no apologies but tell what you were kind enough to express an interest in, viz. How I like hospital life & how I get on.

If I had come expecting to enjoy myself I should have paraded home again a week ago as an all pervading bewildement fell upon me for the first few days, & when Miss Kendall calmly asked me to wash and put clean clothes on some eight or ten dreary faced, dirty & wounded men who came in last week I felt that the climax was reached & proceeded to do it very much as I should have attempted to cut off arms or legs if ordered to. Having no brothers & a womanly man for a father I find myself rather staggered by some of the performances about me but possessing a touch of Macawber’s spirit – I still hope to get used to it & hold myself “ready for a spring if anything turns up.”

My ward is the lower one & I perade that region like a stout brown ghost from six in the morning till nine at night haunting & haunted for when not doing something I am endeavoring to decide what comes next being sure some body is in need of my maternal fussing. If we had capable attendants things would go nicely but sick soldiers being mortal will give out, get cross or keep out of sight in a surprisingly successful manner which induces the distracted nurse to wish she were a family connection of Job’s. I have old McGee whom you may remember & a jolly old soul he is but not a Mercury, my other helper is a vile boy who gobbles up my stores, hustles “my boys,” steals my money & causes my angry passions to rise to such an extent that he was this morning deposed & a mild youth much given to falling flat with soap bowls in his new-broomish desire to do well reigns in his stead.

My chief afflictions are bad air & no out of door exercise, bad odours are my daily bread so to speak & in the course of time I may learn to relish them, the other matter must take its chance & if I get hopelessly stupid by being roasted & stifled they must turn me out to pasture on the Heights, other people live without & I must learn this also.

I find Mrs. Ropes very motherly & kind, Miss Kendall the most faithful of workers, too much so for her own good I take the liberty of thinking, but now that her friend is with her she sometimes consents to rest. The other people are all more or less agreeable & friendly but they might be archangels & I not know it as there is no time for conversation or merrymaking of any sort. Our Christmas dinner was a funny scramble but we trimmed up the rooms & tried to make it pleasant for the poor fellows & they seemed to enjoy it after a fashion.

This is a very hasty scribble but half a dozen stumps are waiting to be wet & my head is full of little duties to be punctually performed so I write to a sort of mental tune that goes on all day – Skinners broth, Marble’s tea, Blister Swift, & write for Lee, Somethings wanting, so I see.

Please tell the sister who sent it that the pear was my water bottle all the way to Baltimore.

Everything here strikes me as very odd & shiftless both within & without, people, manners customs & ways of living, but I like to watch it all & am very glad I came as this is the sort of study I enjoy. If you find a minute in your busy life to send a few lines to the embryo nurse she will feel much honored for letters are our only excitement. Very truly yours,

L. M. Alcott


Through Some Eventful Years

Through Some Eventful Years by Susan Bradford Eppes

December 25th, 1862.—We reached home on the 24th but it is not like Christmas. No frolicking for anybody as Cousin Martha died yesterday morning and will be buried here tomorrow. Everybody loved her and grieves that she has gone.

Aunt Sue is in trouble, for little Mary Eliza is sick unto death and Father and Mother are with her today. She has typhoid pneumonia and she has always been delicate. Father has seven sick soldiers but none of them in danger at present, although he thought two of them would surely die the first part of the week. He has been fortunate so far, for he has not lost a single patient.

Brother Amos stood the trip very well and can handle his crutches better than at first. He can walk about in the house but has to have help to go down the steps. There are so many poor crippled soldiers. Oh, if this terrible war was over!


Through Some Eventful Years

Through Some Eventful Years by Susan Bradford Eppes

December 20th, 1862.—Last night we sat up all night, getting Harry ready to get off this morning, early, for Virginia. His sister and nieces were packing clothes, putting up provisions for him to take back to camp with him and I was finishing the last pair of socks I had on hand, that makes six pair I have knit for him. He wanted me to kiss him goodbye but Mother does not approve of caresses. All my playmates, with a few exceptions, have been boys and Mother’s rule is “hands off.” I am not allowed to waltz with any but cousins and she does not exactly like that.

Captain Mac Whitehead and Major Whitehead go tomorrow. Other people are coming but these soldiers who are going, are so near and dear and these new-comers are only just “company.” It makes a great difference.


Union army withdraws.–Diary of Josiah Marshall Favill.

Diary of a Young Officer–Josiah Marshall Favill (57th New York Infantry)

[December 15th]

Early Monday evening the commanding general concluded to withdraw, and the troops were ordered to recross the river. During the day the ambulances were kept busy transfering the wounded from the town to Stafford and as soon as it became dark, the artillery parked in the streets, crossed over, followed immediately afterwards by the infantry. Long, dark lines filled every street, converging near the bridges, and with rapid strides the men stepped briskly out. Luckily for us, the night was pitch dark, the wind howling dismally through the streets, swinging the doors and shutters of the deserted houses upon their creaking hinges in a most depressing manner; but it prevented the enemy from observing our movements, and so was especially welcome. Out in front, just under the guns of Marye’s hill, lay our Fifty-second regiment Colonel Frank in command, keeping up a bold front, occasionally exchanging shots with the rebs. Under cover of this line, all the troops in rear had been withdrawn, and they were now alone upon the field. By midnight most of the troops had crossed over and Zook with a crowd of officers sat on horseback near the head of the bridge, keeping a watchful eye in rear as well as on the bridge. Our brigade brought up the rear, and was just about to cross when Mitchell came along and directed that an attempt be made to withdraw the Fifty-second from the front. It seemed altogether likely the enemy would discover our movements sooner or later and whenever they did so the regiment was doomed to capture. The colonel directed me to undertake the task of withdrawing the regiment; that meant to ride alone through a deserted town, to scramble over a field of battle covered with hundreds of dead men and strewn with muskets and encumbrances, in a night so dark that nothing could be seen, was surely an unpleasant duty, but saying good bye. Without even an orderly I turned and galloped through the street towards the railroad track. Most of the houses, although completely deserted, were still lighted by candles left by our men, and all the doors stood open, creaking and groaning in the midnight darkness. I soon reached the railroad, and following it, went into the depot, from near which we originally made our exit to the attack. Here I dismounted, groped about for several minutes for something to fasten my horse to, stumbling over a big pile of dead men, and at last found the fastening of a window shutter, the very thing I wanted. Billy did not like the idea of being left alone in so lonesome a spot, and whinnied and stamped provokingly; groping my way by the big doors, I passed out towards the battlefield; near a small house close to the brick kiln, where a dog rushed out barking furiously, I stopped for a moment till all was still, then hurried along again, groping my way over the prostrate forms of dead men, sometimes on a run, at others, creeping and picking my way as best I could, amongst the numberless muskets with fixed bayonets, etc., that covered the ground. Many times I was obliged to lie flat down and peer ahead, to get my bearings, at others to avoid the musket balls, as every little while the rebel lines opened fire, and in fact a scattering fusilade was kept up all the time. After many efforts, changing direction first to the right, then to the left, I stumbled on the line of living men lying flat down, hardly distinguishable from the dead without stooping, and was never so delighted in my life before. The men were equally glad to see me, or more accurately, hear my voice, for the darkness was so intense that no man’s face could be seen; the men were full of anxiety, fearing we might abandon them, and quickly passed the news of my arrival along the line. I moved cautiously towards the center, where no man spoke above a whisper, and soon ran into Colonel Frank, who hugged me, squeezed my hand, and was beside himself for joy. He presented his canteen, familiarly known to all his friends, and after taking a good drink, we arranged the plan of withdrawal, which was to muffle canteen cups and dishes with the blankets, face to the left, and march straight for the railway cut, which we knew was not far distant. Everything was to be done quietly, the men following their file leaders without word of command. These arrangements being concluded, the officers and men were notified, and in a few minutes all was ready for the movement. Two or three shots were fired in different parts of the line, to let the rebels know we were still there then quickly the line stood up faced to the left, and at a tremenduous speed, stepped out and reached the cut without attracting the enemy’s attention. Once on the railroad, we soon reached the depot, where I found my horse. I was quickly on his back, and at the head of the column moved through the silent streets to the bridge, where the engineers were eagerly awaiting our arrival. Without loss of time, the regiment moved across. As the last man stepped on board the bridge, I bade the engineer officer in charge good bye, and followed the regiment, the bridge itself disappearing like magic, and before I reached the Stafford side half of it was taken up and all access to the other side barred. I put spurs to my horse, and rode directly to headquarters, where all but Green, my man, were fast asleep. He took my horse, and in a few moments I too was “in the shadow of the earth,—sleep, nature’s soft nurse, the mantle that covers thought, the food that appeases hunger; the balance and weight that equal the shepherd with the King, and the simple with the wise.”


Through Some Eventful Years

Through Some Eventful Years by Susan Bradford Eppes

December 15th, 1862.—We have news of a great battle in Virginia, Fredericksburg, a terrible battle in which our side won the victory and the enemy suffered severe losses. How I wish the war would end; it throws a cloud over everything.

All the gentlemen visiting here have been wounded but all are getting well; they expect to report for duty very soon. Brother Amos is the only one who is permanently disabled. He says he is going to offer his services to the Commissary Department as soon as he is able. He says a cripple can do what is required there, just as well as anybody. Sister Mag says he shall never leave her again. Father and Mother are missing us but in another week we will be at home.


Village Life in America.

Village Life in America, 1852 – 1872, by Caroline Cowles Richards

December.—Hon. William H. Lamport went down to Virginia to see his son and found that he had just died in the hospital from measles and pneumonia. Their only son, only eighteen years old!


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

(December 1862) All went well, and I got to Georgetown one evening very tired. Was kindly welcomed, slept in my narrow bed with two other room-mates, and on the morrow began my new life by seeing a poor man die at dawn, and sitting all day between a boy with pneumonia and a man shot through the lungs. A strange day, but I did my best; and when I put mother’s little black shawl round the boy while he sat up panting for breath, he smiled and said, “You are real motherly, ma’am.” I felt as if I was getting on. The man only lay and stared with his big black eyes, and made me very nervous. But all were well behaved; and I sat looking at the twenty strong faces as they looked back at me,–the only new thing they had to amuse them,–hoping that I looked “motherly” to them; for my thirty years made me feel old, and the suffering round me made me long to comfort every one.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Friday, the 12th, was a very memorable day, spent in running all over Boston to get my pass, etc., calling for parcels, getting a tooth filled, and buying a veil,–my only purchase. A. C. gave me some old clothes; the dear Sewalls money for myself and boys, lots of love and help; and at 5 p.m., saying “good-by” to a group of tearful faces at the station, I started on my long journey, full of hope and sorrow, courage and plans.

A most interesting journey into a new world full of stirring sights and sounds, new adventures, and an ever-growing sense of the great task I had undertaken.

I said my prayers as I went rushing through the country white with tents, all alive with patriotism, and already red with blood.

A solemn time, but I’m glad to live in it; and am sure it will do me good whether I come out alive or dead.


Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott in War Time

Louisa May Alcott (1862)(December) On the 11th I received a note from Miss H. M. Stevenson telling me to start for Georgetown next day to fill a place in the Union Hotel Hospital. Mrs. Ropes of Boston was matron, and Miss Kendall of Plymouth was a nurse there, and though a hard place, help was needed. I was ready, and when my commander said “March!” I marched. Packed my trunk, and reported in B. that same evening.

We had all been full of courage till the last moment came; then we all broke down. I realized that I had taken my life in my hand, and might never see them all again. I said, “Shall I stay, Mother?” as I hugged her close. “No, go! and the Lord be with you!” answered the Spartan woman; and till I turned the corner she bravely smiled and waved her wet handkerchief on the door-step. Shall I ever see that dear old face again?

So I set forth in the December twilight, with May and Julian Hawthorne as escort, feeling as if I was the son of the house going to war.


To Colonel E. G. W. Butler

A Few Letters and Speeches of the Late Civil War by August Belmont (DNC Chairman)

New Orleans, La.

New York, December 6, 1862.

My Dear Sir,— Our mutual friend, Mr. Butler Duncan, has given me your kind message contained in your recent letter to him.

Allow me to thank you most cordially for it in Mrs. Belmont’s name and my own, and to assure you that it was very grateful to our feelings to hear that your lamented son remembered us kindly before his sad and premature death. These sentiments were most sincerely reciprocated by us.

We sympathize deeply with your bereavement, the extent of which we can fully appreciate by the rare qualities of heart and mind of the deceased which have endeared him to all who knew him.

I unite my prayers with yours, that it may please the Almighty to put a stop to this fratricidal war, which has desolated our once so happy country for the last eighteen months.

Unfortunately, designing and selfish politicians have, in both sections of the country, been allowed to falsify public opinion. I know that the vast majority of the Northern people are not Abolitionists, and that they are willing and ready to secure to the South all her Constitutional rights within the Union, under a most liberal construction. Our recent elections are a clear evidence of this, and I hope that the conservative men of the South will so view it. To a separation they will never consent, because they feel that a separation does not mean the formation of two powerful confederacies living alongside each other in peace and amity, but that it would be followed ere long by a total disintegration, and by the creation of half a dozen republics, swayed by military despotism, and soon destined to the same fate as Mexico and Central America.

One has only to look at the map of what two years ago constituted the United States, then the happiest and most prosperous country on the face of the globe, in order to be convinced of the utter impossibility of a separation.

It is true the war which has been raging with so much fury on both sides, has inflicted much woe and suffering both North and South. Nobody deplores this more deeply than I do, and nobody worked harder to avert it.

Cannot the conservative men in both sections prevent a further duration of all this misery ? There have been faults and errors on both sides, and the bitter fruits which they have borne are a sure guaranty against their recurrence.

Both sides have been taught to appreciate each other’s patriotism, endurance, and courage. With all its miseries, this war has revealed to us and to the world the immense power and the inexhaustible resources of our country. We could, if reunited, confidently look forward to a destiny as a nation such as history has not yet witnessed and the brightness of which dazzles the wildest imagination.

And is all this to be sacrificed to sectional passion and prejudice, fanned by designing politicians for their own selfish ends!

Excuse me, I pray, for having allowed myself to be carried away on this topic, but I feel so deeply for our common country that I could not resist the impulse.


The Madison Guards.

Civil War

American Citizen (Canton, MS), December 5, 1862

We have received the following letter from Capt. Dudley, of the above company, which we lay before our readers. l It speaks a language in behalf of his company more eloquent than we could use:

Culpeper C. H., Va., Nov. 14th, 1862.
Mr. John F. Bosworth:

Dear Sir: You will do the “Madison Guards” a great kindness by stating in your paper that in about one month from this time, some one will be sent to Mississippi for the purpose of procuring articles of clothing for the company, which may be donated by benevolent parties, or sent in by the parents of the members, to any one who would volunteer to take charge of them until the agent applies. Shoes, socks and pants, are the articles mostly needed. Not less than ten are barefooted and some have only soles straped (sic) to their feet. It is painful to see them thus when snow is upon the ground, with stony turnpikes over which to march, and still more painful to contemplate the coming winter. The Government can do nothing. Private contributions alone can aid them. Forty-one of the bravest and best of those who bade farewell to Canton, on the 12th of July, 1861, now have their names entered on the rolls as “killed,” “wounded,” or “dead.” They have been in three bloody conflicts—a heavy mortality attending each one—and have never flinched. This is their record to the present time. Recruits have joined us, and there are eighty-eight of us still left—food for death, hunger and privations. They determined when they left you, in those hours of their vexations and troubles, when so much cordial sympathy was given them, never to disappoint you in any expectations. The success of their efforts are yet to be seen.

Will not the beautiful girls and tender hearted ladies of Madison, whom we have never forgotten, remember us now in these hours of our greatest suffering? The clothing agent will discover when he comes to lift the heap.

Most respectfully, your friend,
Wm. Hal. Dudley, Captain


Dear Courier

Civil War

December 4, 1862, Rome Courier (Gerogia)

Camp 22D Georgia Regiment,

Near Orange Court House, Va.,

Nov. 15th, 1862

Dear Courier: There has been nothing of great importance occurred in this vicinity, since my last communication. On Thursday, October 30th, we left our camp near Winchester and arrived at this place on Sunday, Nov 2d, making the trip in less than four days, at distance of 65 miles. The march was very fatiguing, more so perhaps than any we have taken since leaving Richmond. The roads were so extremely hard and the first day we marched too rapidly, making 24 miles in ten hours. The weather is, and has been quite cool for sometime. There was a considerable fall of snow here on the 7th inst., enough to almost completely cover the ground to a depth of half an inch in thickness.

Our regiment is still without tents, which is very disagreeable. Some of the boys have those small Yankee tents, which they found in the Yankee camps, and which they carry on their back, when on a march. These little tents afford considerable comfort.

Their are a good many soldiers of this regiment without shoes and several quite destitute of clothing. The government has furnished some shoes, and clothing, but not near enough to sup- ply the wants. Lieut. Gen. Longstreet issued an order a few days ago for the soldiers who were without shoes to make moccasins of raw hides. The Fireside Defenders met with good fortune the other day. Col. Jones, who is now at home wounded, had a lot of shoes made, and sent them to the company. The boys are now all well shod, “all honor our gallant Colonel.”

Our regiment went out last Tuesday, (the 11th inst.,) near Hazel Run, six miles from camp, to do picket duty.– The Yankees fell back and our men pursued them to the Rappahannock, where they still remain, (said to be) in large force. Our regiment pursued the Yankees some six or seven miles, and advanced as far as Jefferson, thirteen miles from this place.

One very remkable instance occurred while we were out. Two South Carolinians, belonging to Stewart’s Cavalry, having been informed by a lad where there were some Yankees taking breakfast, at a neighboring house, went and captured the whole party. Consisting of a colonel, adjutant and four privates. We returned to camp last evening.

Yesterday morning Stewart’s Cavalry captured forty Yankees at Jefferson.– There has been some canonading going on in that direction to-day. A regular engagement is expected in a short time.

The health of the regiment is generally good, considerating the exposures the men are subjected to.

There are about twenty-two members of our company absent, sick and wounded, at different hospitals and some at home. I have not the time to give their names.

We received a few days ago, the sad news of the death of our much beloved Captain W. F. Jones. He died in Baltimore, Md., Oct 24th. It will be remembered that he was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Sharpsburg. He was never found wanting.– He was brave and energetic, and but few men surpassed him, though young, as a military commander, he was much beloved and esteemed by all who knew him. Those who were under his command sadly mourn his loss. Never had any captain, more the entire approbatgion of his company than he. He was a young man in the bloom of life, bid fair to make a useful and prominent citizen; but alas! death leaves a “shining Mark.”



Ephraim Shelby Dodd

Diary of Ephraim Shelby Dodd, Co. D of Terry’s Texas Rangers

In his history of “Terry’s Texas Rangers,” Mr. L. B. Giles narrates the following tragic incident of the East Tennessee campaign:

“It was during this winter that one of the saddest events in all our career happened: the hanging of E. S. Dodd by the enemy. He was a member of Company D. He was of a good family and well educated. For many years he kept a diary, setting down at night the happenings of the day. He was taken prisoner with this diary in his pocket. On that evidence alone he was condemned and executed as a spy.”

In January, 1914, the State Librarian received a letter from a resident of New York State, informing him that she had in her possession a diary found on the body of a Texas Ranger hung as a spy. Negotiations for its acquisition by the State Library were opened at once, and terminated successfully. The only information about the diary this person could give was that it “was found by a lieutenant from a N. H. regiment, who for years was a friend of our family, and some time before his death (which occurred six years ago) he gave it to me.”

E. S. Dodd came to Texas from Kentucky late in 1860 or early in 1861. After visiting an uncle, James L. L. McCall, at Waco, he made his home with another uncle, Dr. John R. McCall, at Austin. He was teaching school near Austin, and was not yet out of his teens, when he enlisted in Terry’s Rangers.

Ernest William Winkler

Texas State Library
November 5, 1914


Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L Castleman.

1st—To day I rode over a mile from camp, to see—right in the woods, with but a little settlement surrounding it— the most aristocratic pile I have yet seen in Virginia. ‘Tis a large brick church, built in the form of a cross. As I approached it the first thing which attracted my attention, after I had wondered what it was doing there, was a black panel over the main entrance door, with this inscription :

“Built A. D., 1751; destroyed by fire, 1754,
and rebuilt
A. D., 1757, by Mourning Richards.

William Copen, Mason.”

I entered, and found two broad aisles crossing each other at right angles. The pulpit is built after the fashion of Trinity Church, New York, or somewhat in the style of that in the large Cathedral in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; but the the work is more elaborate than either of them, the minister having to pass into the third story of his pulpit before he has approached near enough to the Divine presence to catch his inspiration. The two lower stories are occupied severally by the Register and the Parish Clerk. The floor is of fine marble; the pews are square, with seats on all sides, and large enough to have seated, before the advent of crinoline, about twenty persons to each pew. At the end of one of the main aisles is a semi-circular enclosure, a resting place for the dead. On the beautiful marble floor which covers the mortal relics is deeply inscribed, and inlaid with gold:

Of the race of the House

Ah! and must the “memory of the race of the House of Monclure” be preserved only in gold? Could not he, the Vice-gerent of God—have written on hearts stony enough to retain the impression, the memory which he would have to live forever? Could he not have inscribed on tablets of memory, to pass as an heir-loom from generation to generation, an appreciation of that great precept which he professed—” Peace on Earth, and good will to man?”Then he might have gone, triumphantly exclaiming—

” Exegi monumentum perennius auro.”

But having entrusted the preservation of his memory more to gold than to Godliness, he is likely to be remembered in a manner which he little expected, for our soldiers have broken in, have torn up this marble floor, and are carrying away this golden momento “of the race of the house of Monclure,” as trophies of this unholy war. “The house,” at least, will be remembered. I have asked permission tonight, to occupy this church as a hospital, my chief object being to protect it from further vandalism.

In the wall, over this little enclosure which I have described, are four large black panels, the first and second containing part of the XXth Chap, of Exodus, the third, the Creed of the Church of England, and the fourth, the Lord’s Prayer, all in silvered letters—bright silvered letters on a black ground! How fitly emblematic of the spirit of the inscriptions to the darkness of the minds on which the living principles were to be impressed.

At the other end of this aisle is a high gallery, Another large black panel in this gallery bears the names of the (leadi)ng actors here, more than a hundred years ago. Let me help to imortalize those names :


May their names be recorded as plainly, and more durably, in a house not built with hands, as in the ephemeral pile now threatened with destruction.


Arrest and Sentence.

Civil War

Charleston Mercury, December 1, 1862

A negro woman, named Phillis Stuart, was arrested by officer Hicks on Wednesday last, for sending a mulatto child to a school for white children. The Mayor sentenced her to thirty days’ solitary confinement. We understand that there are some other cases of this character, which will soon be looked after.


Rebel War Clerk

A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital, By John Beauchamp Jones

DECEMBER 1ST, MONDAY.—There is a rumor to-day that we are upon the eve of a great battle on the Rappahannock. I doubt it not.

I am sorry to see that Col. McRae, a gallant officer, has resigned his commission, charging the President with partiality in appointing junior officers, and even his subordinates, brigadiers over his head. Nevertheless, he tenders his services to the Governor of his State, and will be made a general. But where will this end? I fear in an issue between the State and Confederate authorities.
The news from Europe is not encouraging. France is willing to interfere, and Russia is ready to participate in friendly mediation to stay the effusion of blood—but England seems afraid of giving offense to the United States. They refer to the then approaching elections in the North, and lay some stress on the anticipated change in public opinion. Popular opinion! What is it worth in the eyes of European powers? If it be of any value, and if the voice of the people should be allowed to determine such contests, why not leave it to a vote of the Southern people to decide under which government they will live? But why make such an appeal to monarchies, while the Republican or Democratic government of the North refuses to permit 8,000,000 of people to have the government they unanimously prefer? Can it be possible that the United States are ignorant of popular sentiment here? I fear so; I fear a few traitors in our midst contrive to deceive even the Government at Washington. Else why a prolongation of the war? They ought to know that, under almost any conceivable adverse circumstances, we can maintain the war twenty years. And if our lines should be everywhere broken, and our country [click to continue…]


Downing’s Civil War Diary.–Alexander G. Downing.

Diary of Alexander G. Downing; Company E, Eleventh Iowa Infantry

Monday, 1st—We lay at this place, Waterford, until about 6 o’clock in the evening, when we struck our tents and started on a night march.


Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes.

Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes

Camp Maskell, Gauley Bridge, December 1, 1862.

Dearest Lu: — We are on the south side of the Kanawha — same side as the Eighty-ninth — at the ferry below and in sight of the falls, two miles below Gauley Bridge. There, do you know where we are? It is a muddy — bad slippery mud — place, and as it rains or sleets here all winter, that is a serious objection. Now you have the worst of it. In all other respects, it is a capital place. Beautiful scenery — don’t be alarmed, I won’t describe; no guard or picket duty, scarcely; good water and wood; convenient to navigation; no other folks near enough to bother, and many other advantages. The men are building cabins without tools or lumber (sawed lumber, I mean,) and will be at it some weeks yet before we look like living.

It was jolly enough to get back with the men — all healthy and contented, glad to be back in western Virginia by themselves. They greeted me most cordially. It was like getting home after a long absence. The officers all came in, twenty-four in number, and around the wine, etc., you saw packed, talked over the funny and sad things of the campaign — a few sad, many funny. We resolved to build a five-hundred-dollar monument to the killed, etc., to be put in cemetery ground at Cleveland.

A story or two. Bill Brown, as he rushed forward in the bayonet charge at South Mountain, said to his lieutenant behind him: “I’ll toss the graybacks over my head to you, and you must wring their necks.” In Washington a lady asked Bill if he wouldn’t have his handkerchief scented: “Yes, yes,” said he and tore off about four inches square of his shirt and handed it to her. She took the hint and gave him a fine handkerchief.

In Maryland, Colonel Scammon dressed up in a splinter-new unform. He met a fellow hauling into camp a load of rails to burn. Colonel Scammon said: “Where did you get those rails?” “On a fence down by the creek.” “Who authorized you to take them?” “I took them on my own hook.” “Well, sir,” said the colonel, “just haul them back and put them where you got them.” The fellow looked at the colonel from head to heel and drove ahead merely remarking: “A bran’ new colonel by G—d!” The doctor asked Bill Brown where he was wounded: “Oh, in the place where I’m always ailing.” . . .

Comly is urged by leading officers in this brigade to be made colonel of the Eighty-ninth. He would be a capital man for the place.

My mess are eating up the good things with a relish. It consists of Comly, Doctor Joe, McIlrath, and myself. We have Company A’s fine tenor singer for cook — a good cook and a nice gentleman he is. My orderly, Carrington, and Doctor’s ditto are the only servants, all soldiers — contrary to law, but much better than having darkies. Dr. Joe has built a bed today wide enough to have Webb and Birch both sleep with him! He really thinks of it.

Dr. Jim resigned today on a surgeon’s certificate. Joe thought it best and I concurred. He is not in danger, but was evidently breaking down in this climate. Old Gray is with his company. Dr. Joe saw him today carrying mud to a couple of men building a chimney, and asked him what he was doing now. Gray replied: “I am clark to these gentlemen!”

The Eighty-ninth were camped on this ground. When the Twenty-third moved up alongside of them, the officer of the day in the Eighty-ninth was heard by some of our men telling in his camp that they were near an old regiment now and they must be watchful at night or the Twenty-third would steal whatever they wanted! That night cook-stoves, blankets, a tent from over the sleepers’ heads, and a quantity of other property mysteriously disappeared from the Eighty-ninth notwithstanding their vigilance. Our men sympathized, our camp was searched, but, of course, nothing was found. After the Eighty-ninth moved, men were seen pulling out of the river stoves and other plunder by the quantity. The Eighty-ninth’s surgeon was a friend of Captain Canby. He called on the captain a few days ago and was surprised to find his cooking stove doing duty in Captain Canby’s tent. The best of it was the Eighty-ninth appeared to take it in good part.

Bottsford and Kennedy, both captains and A. A. G’s — Bottsford for General Scammon and Kennedy for General Crook. Hood came up with me from Gallipolis. . . .

Affectionately ever,


Mrs. Hayes.