Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Half a Century.



Next morning a new surgeon took charge, and ordered that hay to be removed.  The men clung to their beds and sent for me; I plead a respite, in hopes of getting muslin to make ticks; but was soon detected in the act of taking a bowl of broth to one of my patients.  This the surgeon forbade on the ground that it was not regular meal time.  I said the man was asleep at meal time.  This he would not permit, men must be fed at regular hours, or not at all, and the new authority informed me that

“More wounded soldiers had been killed by women stuffing them than by anything else.”

He had just come from Massachusetts, and this was his first day among the wounded.  I set my bowl down before the altar, found a surgeon who ranked him, and stated the case, when the higher authority said: 

“Give every man an ox, every day, if he will take it in beef tea.”

“But, Doctor, there is nothing in beef tea.  I give broth.”

“Very good, give them whatever you please and whenever you please—­we can trust you.”

The new surgeon was promptly dismissed, and when next I saw him he was on his way back to Massachusetts.

That night a nurse came for me to go to the theater which had been vacated, and once more almost filled with men who lay in total darkness, without having any provision made for them.  I got them lights, nurses and food, but could not go back for another siege in that building—­could not leave my present post, but the city was being evacuated.  Both theater and church were emptied, and I went to the tobacco warehouse, where Mrs. Ingersol was perplexed about a man with a large bullet in his brain.  When I had seen him and assured her that another ounce of lead in a skull of that kind was of no consequence, she redoubled her care, and I have no doubt he is living yet.  But there was one man in whom I felt a deep interest and for whom I saw little hope.  He had a chest wound, and had seemed to be doing well when there was a hemorrhage, and he lay white and still almost as death.  He must not attempt to speak, and I was a godsend to him, for I knew what he needed without being told, and gave him the best care I could.  He was of a Western State, and his name Dutton, and when I left him I thought he must die in being moved, as he must be soon; but I must go with a boat-load of wounded.

This boat was a mere transport, and its precious freight was laid on the decks as close as they could well be packed, the cabin floor being given up to the wounded officers.  There were several surgeons on board who may have been attending to the men, but cannot remember seeing any but one engaged in any work of that kind.  There were also seven lady nurses, all I think volunteers, all handsomely if not elegantly dressed.  Of course they could do nothing there, and I cannot see how they could have done anything among the wounded in any place where there were no bedsteads to protect the men from their hoops.  They had probably been engaged in preparing food, taking charge of, and distributing supplies and other important work, for personal attendance on the men was but a part of the work to be done.

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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