Hospital Memories: Ii

IN March, the first fresh fragrance of the Southern spring, and the merry songs of birds in the evergreen-trees, filled the soft air with a delusive promise that summer was near at hand. But cold, stormy weather tediously delayed its coming, and resulted calamitously for the soldiers of the Ninth Army Corps, who came from the bravely borne hardships and well-earned honors of the siege of Knoxville, as well as for many other regiments that joined them at Annapolis before starting on the last campaign of the war. Indeed, throughout the war, it seemed as if the inception of an expedition was a signal for the elements to lash themselves into a fury in some remarkable manner. Sleet, snow, and bitter blasts did their worst for many weeks at this time ; and pneumonia in its most fearful forms, and rheumatism, attacked hundreds in their unavoidable exposure.

About seventy colored men, many Indians, and scores of others were brought into the hospital. I think that no one regiment sent more patients than the First Michigan Sharpshooters, who had come from Chicago in a violent storm in partially open cars. Their lieutenant-colonel lay in a critical state for several days with typhoid pneumonia. The officers and men of the regiment were continually coming in to inquire for him, and their words of interest and esteem bore witness to the beauty of a character of which his noble face was alone sufficient assurance. The disease of which he was apparently dying needs, perhaps more than any other, the closest watchfulness and good judgment. The doctors were indefatigable in their consultations. Ice held constantly in the mouth was the only nourishment he could take. When medicine had done its utmost. Dr.Vanderkeift sadly said, he feared that he must die. During five days and nights sleep had not at all calmed his delirious ravings, and nature seemed exhausted. “But you are determined that he shall not die,” said one of the doctors to the lady in charge of the ward. “Not if good care can save his life,” she answered. (And here let me record the uniform courtesy and respect with which suggestions from the ladies were received by the doctors. Their wishes were always acceded to, if possible, with a gentlemanly deference which showed they were not considered intrusive.) Life, however, seemed almost gone, and hope at an end for our patient, when at nightfall a group of doctors whispered together that there was no use in doing anything more,−that he could not live till morning. Then, with a pertinacity which could not yield, the lady in charge requested that a blister might be applied to the back of his neck. “It will do no harm, and, if it will be the slightest gratification to you, it shall be put on; but,” added the doctors, “you had better make up your mind to lose him, for he must die.” With what intense satisfaction, at five o’clock the next morning, was the doctor welcomed in the ward, and told that four hours of refreshing sleep had followed the application of the blister! He was surprised even to find the patient alive, and with joy pronounced him much better. He ordered the strongest beef essence, with a fresh egg lightly beaten mixed with it, to be given by the, teaspoonful every twenty minutes, alternating it with brandy and water. There was a wonderful improvement that day, and before his friends arrived on the next, the sick man was quite out of danger.

One of the most highly prized of all the various gifts which were offered in grateful remembrance to the ladies in the hospital was a volume of Autograph Leaves of American Authors from this patient. On the blank page was written:−

“— — —:−I owe you a better memento, but here is one that I know your good taste will appreciate. “I met you first in my delirium; and knew you only in the purest and sweetest character a woman can exhibit,−a true and faithful Florence Nightingale, supporting and encouraging the weary, bathing the feverish brow of the brave soldier dying far from other friends.

“I never can forget, and I trust you never will, how you night and day kept watch over me when wife and father were yet far away, when fever and delirium were racking my brain and sapping life from my lungs,−how you bore with every impatience of mine, or kindly answered every severe word.

“Please accept this book from

“Your devoted friend,

“— — — —.”

There was a general commotion and eager haste in the hospital the day before the Ninth Army Corps left. The convalescents assured the doctors of their ability to go, but the doctors, differing in opinion, made many a brave man unhappy. One old soldier, John Paul, chief saddler of the Third Division of the Corps, insisted stoutly on the necessity of his joining his command. If the whole success of the undertaking had rested upon his shoulders, he could not have felt the responsibility more. At the last moment he was allowed to go.

All were ambitious to share the glory of the coming triumph, little dreaming of the terrible cost of life and limb with which it was to be achieved. Of those who went from the hospital, numbers were stricken down, never to need care again. How sadly the words “Shot through the head” looked opposite the name of Frank Wagner, in the first lists which came from the front ! He was a spirited boy of seventeen, who by great care had been raised from a dangerous illness. But almost sadder than the death-lists were the names of those taken prisoners. We had learned but too well that it would be death in the end to most; to very few life worth having.

Back to the hospital, too, came letters, telling of long marches and hard fighting; and of the amount of sickness which would be kept off, and pain and misery saved, if there were two or three hundred Miss —s down there. The wounded might be counted, the letters said, by tens of thousands ; the Ninth Army Corps had earned imperishable laurels, but they had lost heavily. The Michigan regiment from which we had had so many patients suffered severely ; of the company of Indians, which started one hundred and ten in number, only six remained; and the other companies were hardly more fortunate. Dismay and anguish filled the land at the tidings of the desolation which was the price of victory.

Early in the spring another exchange of paroled prisoners was made. The New York came several times, bringing hundreds of starved men. Death had released many from their sufferings during the winter. The men had had no meat since New-Year’s, and their tortures on Belle Isle and in Libby Prison had been excruciating. Smallpox had broken out among them. The dead had lain by the side of the living for days without burial.

Among the prisoners who came were twenty-five little drummer-boys. They had endured the hardships of exile better than the men, and were in the best of spirits. A little flaxen-haired boy of about thirteen years of age, on being asked if he were not rather young to come to the war, answered, “O no, and there are plenty more just as able as I to come and help put down this Rebellion.” There was a man by the name of Schwarz, who unfurled the flag of his regiment on landing. He was the color-bearer of the First Maryland, and had succeeded in concealing the flag, until now, with proud joy, he held it high once more in free air. His brother was the first man wounded in the war, at Fort Sumter.

General Neal Dow came at this time, having passed nearly a year in Libby Prison. He was able to come in and take tea with the ladies on his arrival, and to start for home the next day. lie gave a graphic account of his prisonlife in Virginia. The colored people he had always found good friends. Being without the news of the day was among the deprivations of Libby, and the prisoners were indebted to the colored attendants in the prison for an occasional newspaper, When any great victory had taken place on the Union side, there was always a stricter watch kept over our men, lest even this gleam of joy should brighten their dull life; and particular care was taken constantly to inform them that great battles had been fought, that the South had gained immense advantages, and that the North would soon be forced to give up the war. One morning a colored man came to General Dow and told him that there was a “mighty big piece of news,” but that he was afraid to tell, lest he should be detected in giving information. But after the General had promised that he should not be betrayed, “Vicksburg is taken! resounded in a loud whisper through the room. It was too good a secret to be kept in silence, and inspired their hearts with fresh courage to bear their hard lot.

Major Calhoun came too at this time. He was from Kentucky, a man of marked character and superior education. He had made an attempt to escape, and, being caught, was taken back and confined in a cell, in which he could neither lie down nor stand up. For six weeks he was kept there, and then taken out with a brain-fever settled upon him, from which he had not fully recovered when brought to us. As his pale, thin face looked forth from the coarse brown blanket in which he was wrapped, it was as pitiable a sight as can be imagined. It was enough to melt the stoutest heart to hear him relate his woful experiences, and tell how many comrades he had left in misery. “Good by, Cap",−we ’re glad you are going to God’s land; but tell them at home how we fare here, and see if they can't get us away.” These were the parting words from his sorrowful comrades.

“Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?”

was often the piteous appeal of countenances among the returned prisoners, betraying a brain disturbed by depressing fancies or harrowing imaginations. In some cases the malady amounted to insanity, and then the patients were removed to an asylum. Homesickness was frequently the cause of the most unmanageable of cases. No medicine was effectual in giving an appetite or producing sound sleep. All attempts to cheer or amuse these childish patients were regarded by them as the evidence of a heartless want of sympathy. "Just think, I have been out four months, and not had a furlough yet!” said an officer one day at the conclusion of an hour’s effort to divert his mind ; and, with violent sobbings, he buried his face in the pillow. A leave of absence proved his cure-

There was a Pennsylvania man who had never betore he became a soldier left his native farm,−a vigorous-looking youth, hearty and robust in stature. At night he would awake from dreams of haying-scenes or apple-gatherings, shouting out the names of his brothers ; and when he found himself so far away, and in the hospital, he would break into the most grievous wails and lamentations. This oi course disturbed the other sick men seriously, and night after night the poor nurse strove in vain to soothe him. In the daytime a quieter kind of crying would satisfy him. There was nothing but talking about his home that would bring a gleam of gladness to his disconsolate countenance. Every time that the lady in charge of the ward left him was the Occasion of a trembling lip and tearful eyes. At last it was proposed to treat him as if he were a child. Now you must try and be a good boy, Joseph, and when you wake up not make such a noise and disturb the men; if you are quiet, you shall have something nice given you in the morning,” This was a good-night promise. The experiment succeeded ; for on our going into the ward in the morning, he said, "I have been real good, and only woke the men up once.” And then he wondered what he should get. An orange satisfied his most ardent expectations ; and then a promise of something more at noon, and again at night, if he continued his improved behavior, kept him happier through the day. This system was followed up for a few days, when he recovered his spirits, and was able to rejoin his regiment in a short time.

Where nostalgia was the only complaint, it would yield, but was almost hopeless if disease had undermined the constitution. There were two boys about seventeen years old in one ward, both dolefully sad, and pining continually for home and familiar faces. One was from Tennessee, the other from Connecticut. They were equally low, being among the worst cases from prison life. The father of one came to him; the sister whom the other talked constantly about could not even hear from him, the Rebels cutting off postal communication. The evening West’s father came, he seemed nearer death than the little Tennesseean, but his father’s presence saved his life; he quickly rallied, the pressure of his melancholy was removed by bearing a home voice, his appetite returned, his strength was restored. But the other boy sank lower and lower in despondency for which there was no remedy ; and the last words he spoke were of his sister.−he would be content to die if he could only see her once more.

The enlivening music of a fine band was added this spring to the hospital organization. For an hour every morning and evening its animating strains stirred the martial spirit in the wornout and suffering, and brought cheer and courage to hours of loneliness. The iittle “Knapsack,” too, was merged into a printed sheet called “ The Crutch,” the weekly publication of which furnished an occasion for the patients to amuse themselves in writing articles in prose or verse.

A complete photographic establishment appeared in one corner of the hospital grounds at this time, and became the resort of hundreds of officers and men in their leisure hours of convalescence. The instrument was used in taking pictures of uncommon cases in surgery, and in faithfully delineating the spectral features of the returned prisoners.

The month of June found our hospital comparatively deserted: all the men who were able had left for their regiments, and all but two or three prisoners had gone to Camp Parole to await exchange, or had been laid beneath the sods of Maryland. In the wards were to be found patients who had been there for months, prostrated either by chronic illness or stubborn wounds,−mere human wrecks, bones and breath alone remaining of once rugged frames and constitutions.

Gently the balmy summer breezes creep into the tent wards, laden with the rich fragrance of roses, violets, and jasmine, offering their mute sympathy to those who shall never more walk forth to behold them growing in luxuriant beauty. William Miller, a boy of fifteen, is one of these. He is an orphan, and was the pet of fond grandparents, who consented to let him join the Union army to escape Rebel conscription. He is a mere child ; his dark, deep, expressive eyes, shaded by long, drooping lashes, light up with happiness his face of marble paleness, as he receives the comforts of life and the kindness of friends once more, after long months of homesickness and starvation. His spirit is buoyant with the anticipation of seeing his native State of Tennessee entirely rescued from the destroying hand of treason, and he is proud of having suffered for the flag of freedom. But at times those bright eyes are clouded ; not that he for one moment regrets his experiences, bitter as they have been, in contrast with the doting care in which he was reared ; yet he talks a good deal about that little home in the far-off mountains, and it is easy to discern that the tidings which cannot come from those he so dearly loves there would bring him great happiness. He is too manly in his patriotism, however, to give way to these restless longings, and stifles the secret unquiet of his heart by a bravely forced cheerfulness. The doctor is sure that he cannot live much longer, and thinks best that he should be told. It is a painful duty thus to blight all the hopes which cling to earth.

One day, as he was talking about his grandparents, and how much he should have to tell them when he got home, he was asked, “But suppose, Miller, that it was God’s will for you not to get well, but to go to a better world above, how would you feel ?” The awful possibility flashed upon him for the first time, and, bursting into tears, he exclaimed, "Must I die, and never see grandpapa and grandmamma again ? . . . . I can die for the country, but I do want to see them once more.” After a little while, with a maturity and strength of character far beyond his years, he sweetly acquiesced in the will of the wise Disposer of our joys and sorrows, and transferred his thoughts to eternal realities. He was comforted by the thought that he should meet those he loved in the heavenly home. “And perhaps they may be there now,” he said, “waiting for me.” At another time, on being reminded that his best and most loving Friend was always near him, he said that he wished that he loved him better, and knew how to pray to him aright. “Can't you say, God be merciful to me a sinner ?" “O yes, but do you call that praying ?” With his thin, white hands meekly clasped upon his breast, he would lie for hours repeating with his slowly moving lips this petition. God heard and answered it. A settled peace filled his soul, making those last few days the beginning of immortal glory to him, as he awaited with triumphant faith the hour of transition. To the end his patriotism glowed warmly ; he asked, the day before he died, that a little flag which was in the tent might be put up where he could see it: “I would love to have that dear flag the last thing that my eyes shall rest upon on earth.”Patiently he suffered until within a few hours of his death, when he sank into a deep sleep, to awake no more here. As we gazed at his little form in the coffin, with the flag he died for laid across his snowy shroud, that impressive, mysterious “why ?” which is so often asked in life, came to our thoughts. Why should one so pure and innocent be called to offer his young life in a struggle for which he was in no manner responsible ? Eternity will unfold all the hidden reasons ; but cannot we even now catch a glimpse of them, remembering that no devotion is too precious a sacrifice for the principles of truth and liberty, and that the longest life could not be crowned with loftier praise than the death of a child-patriot ? A wreath of white rose-buds was woven for the funeral of our little loved one ; a single pink rose was laid with tears on the flag-covered coffin by the soldier-nurse who had tenderly cared for him through his illness.

Impelled by an intense feeling of the importance of a speedy exchange of the large number of men who had been taken prisoners since the opening of the spring campaign, two of the ladies in the hospital went to Washington one day. They were kindly received by President Lincoln, and, in the few minutes’ interview they had with him, the pictures of some of the released prisoners were shown to him. As he gazed at them, a pitying sadness crossed his brow. He asked if indeed they could be correct, and gave a promise that those who were then in the hands of the enemy should be exchanged as soon as it was in his power to effect it. Could that time have sooner come, what unutterable tortures would have been saved to thousands !

Strawberry festivals were given to the men at this time ; gingerbread, and a plentiful supply of fruit, adding a little variety to their every-day fare. The time afforded for such diversions by a less pressing amount of care than usual was cut short by the arrival of the steamer Connecticut, bringing six hundred of those most seriously wounded at the disastrous attack upon Petersburg on the 18th of June. These men were landed at midnight; their wounds had been carefully attended to before their arrival, and were found to be in good order. Yet many were in a dying state, and it was impossible to do for every man all that we desired on the morning that followed, and added by its heat to their weakness, thirst, and discomfort. Hastily the hospital attendants moved from one helpless sufferer to another, in the thickly crowded tent wards. One man would shriek, in frenzied agony, for a drink of water; another would beg to be fanned ; while others would ask to be bathed with icewater.

Among the newly arrived was General Chamberlain, the present Governor of Maine. Supposed to have been “mortally wounded,” so terribly had a Minie-rifle-ball shattered his body, he was, after having been borne by painful and exhausting stages from the extreme front, landed in an almost dying condition. Leaving Bowdoin College as Colonel of the Maine Twentieth, he had already distinguished himself by dashing bravery in many of the great battles of the war. At Petersburg he was raised to the rank of General by Grant for gallantry in leading a charge,−the only case of actual promotion on the field during the war. Bravest in battle, his courage was not less evinced during months of intense and tedious suffering. Partially restored to health as by a miracle, he resumed his command five months from the day of his desperate wound. In Grant’s last campaign he opened the attack on the left at Quaker Road and White Oak Road, for which he received the brevet of Major-General. Although several times wounded, he valiantly pressed on, fighting through the campaign, and taking a prominent and important part in the battle of Five Forks. His command, the First Division of the Fifth Army Corps, was designated to receive the surrender of the arms and colors of Lee’s army; and the flag that waved that day over a conquered rebellion now hangs in his peaceful study at Brunswick.

Of those who died on the morning after the arrival of the Connecticut was a young man belonging to the Rebel army. He had by chance been taken up among our wounded. He had his little Bible in his pocket, which he requested should be sent to his mother, with the message that he died happy, and hoped to meet her in a better world, but that he was a fool for having joined the army. As it was supposed that he might have some such regret in his last hours, he was asked if he were sorry that he had fought against the old flag. "Well, you need not say that,”he said, "but that I was a fool ever to come to this war.” With a smile of peace upon his countenance, he passed away. Several attempts have been made, in vain, since the close of the war, to find his mother; the Bible, and a ring taken from his finger, will possibly never reach her now. Among the wounded were four men who had lost both legs ; they were in the best of spirits, surely thinking to live, and earnestly planning for the future. Had the heat not been so excessive for the ten days after they came, they would probably have survived ; but, one alter another, they died, suddenly overcome by fainting weakness. I remember, too, one boy, only sixteen years old, who had lost his right arm. “You have given a good deal for the country,” was said to him. “Yes, and I would willingly give my other arm to help put down this Rebellion.” Little did he think that within a few hours his life would be yielded in his country’s cause.

Every day a funeral procession moved forth to the place of burial, the band playing the “Russian Dirge” or the "Dead March in Saul.”

It seemed as it a special inspiration of silent endurance and courageous patience were given to the men who lingered in the most acute sufferings. Gangrene spread through the wards, and the remedy was like the application of fire to open wounds. Three times a day was this agony endured with a martyr’s spirit. One man by the name of Hollenbeck would sing in joyous tones,−

“I ’m glad I’m in this army,
I m glad I 'm in this army,
And I ’ll battle till the end.
“He will give me grace to conquer,
He will give me grace to conquer,
And keep me to the end.”

While consciousness lasted, he firmly retained his self-control ; but at last reason gave way, and the groans and distressing cries which for a few days preceded his death told over what a depth of agony his soul had triumphed, before his brain lost its power.

Not alone by the men themselves was this sublime fortitude shown. Mothers, who came to visit their sons, though crushed with grief at their hopeless state, would yet calmly and even cheerfully minister to their comfort.

There was one mother, especially, whom I remember,−a slight, fragile little woman, dressed in widow’s mourning, for her husband had been killed m the war, and it was her third and last son who was now dying for the country. Her strength of mind and body was almost superhuman. She had an angelic expression of countenance, such as comes from learning the full and perfect love of God in the sharp lessons of suffering. She was only too thankful at being permitted to spend these last days and nights by the side of her son, −begging him to put his trust in the Saviour, and telling of the celestial glory prepared for him beyond the grave. She could hardly be persuaded to take even a few hours’ sleep ; she ielt that she could not leave him with the nurse, but consented, if one of the ladies would stay with him, to take a little rest. It was my privilege to watch by him through that last night of restless pain, and then I found that he was in every way worthy of so noble a mother. He expressed his willingness to die, saying that it had been his duty to fight, and that now he gloried in dying for the nation. The tent sides’ fluttering in the light breeze from the bay was the only sound that disturbed the quiet of that starry night, as in the solemn solitude the departing soul gathered fresh energy as the body grew weaker and weaker. Chapters of the Bible and Psalms were read over and over to him ; he earnestly listened to each promise and benediction, and would at the low singing of hymns sleep gently tor a few moments at a time. Early in the morning his mother resumed her place of loving care. In the afternoon she sent for two of the ladies to come over and sing to Frank. The chaplain was there, and life was fast ebbing away. After prayer, the hymn, “My heavenly home is bright and fair, was sung. As the dying boy thanked the ladies, he said that there was a hymn about "rest” that he would like to hear once more. “There is rest for the weary" having been sung, he folded his wasted hands, and said : “This is the last hymn I shall hear on earth. In a little while I shall know of that rest.” He breathed for a few hours longer, and then his spirit was among the redeemed, "in the Christian’s home in glory.” The faithful, trusting mother only said, in the depth of her affliction, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth Him best.”

Dr. Vanderkeift mingled with the pride of a surgeon the utmost kindliness toward each patient. He would, on examining a critical case, immediately after amputation, bend in the most fatherly manner over the man, and, patting him gently, would say, with his German accent : “Now, my dear fellow, do please to live. I am doing all I can for you, and will send you milk from my own Alderney every day.”

Flowers were never more appreciated than in the hospital that summer. A bunch of these bright little treasures would make a man happy for hours, and would receive the most endearing care to preserve their beauty. On going in to see a wounded man one day, the attention of one of the ladies was attracted by a strange-looking object hanging from the tent. Her curiosity being excited, site inquired, “What have you here, John? “Well, miss, it is a long while since I had seen any flowers before those you brought me in yesterday, and it was so warm that I was afraid water would n't keep them, and I hated to see them wither; so I got Evans to make me this calico bag and put some earth in it, and I am in hopes they will grow here by my side, if I keep them moist.” Sure enough, when this admiring florist was able to leave on crutches in a few weeks, he carried these specimens of Maryland floriculture, all rooted and growing, to his Western home.

For the sake of convenience, the ladies usually dressed in dark attire ; but when a light muslin appeared in the wards the effect was quite noticeable. I remember that one day a man asked the lady in charge of his own ward to get another lady, who was arrayed in pink, to come in from her ward and see him. “But what do you want with her ? Can’t I do everything for you?" “W-e-ll, y-e-s ; but then she is dressed up so nice ; if she would only walk through the tent, it would make me feel better.”

In July there was threatened an invasion of the city of Annapolis, which produced much excitement in the hospital. As there were between six and seven hundred officers there at the time as patients, it was not deemed unlikely that Harry Gilmore, with his band of raiders, would, after burning Governor Bradford’s house at Baltimore, make a dash in our direction, if only to terrify and then parole the officers and men. By degrees the telegraphic wires and railway lines were destroyed nearer and nearer to us, thus isolating the city, and giving rise to fearful anticipations. Outside the two entrances to the hospital were dug broad moats, protected by ramparts of earth and a very ludicrous structure of barrels ; while about a mile off a line of riflepits was prepared, with cannon mounted in hastily made forts behind them. Every steamer, fishing-boat, or craft capable of carrying persons or property was put into requisition by the people of Annapolis, and kept constantly ready to start at the first appearance of the foe, and some of the valuable possessions of the hospital floated on the bay for a few days. Messages were left with us for home friends by the men hurrying off to the front, as we termed the spot of the impending encounter, as if the ladies were expected to be the sole survivors of the affair. Every man who could handle a spade or a pickaxe was required at this season of alarm. For three days and nights the reign of terror lasted, causing an injuriously nervous inquietude to the helpless and sick. It was useless to try to allay their apprehensions, for those who smiled at the idea of an attack were merely regarded as endowed with a Quixotic cheerfulness. When gunboats arrived to protect the city, a ray of hope dawned; and when the news reached us that the raiders had retreated across the Potomac, all felt safe once more. A man by the name of Beck, one of the most valued of the hospital attendants, was accidentally shot, though not fatally. He was the sole hero of this brief campaign of fright.

It was not until August that any of our wounded who had been taken prisoners were exchanged on parole. The New York came about the middle of the month, bringing six hundred. Many said that their wounds had been slight, but that amputation had been performed with the assurance from the Rebels that they would fix them so that they would never fight any more. I think that these were exceptional victims of cruelty, for the almost universal testimony of our soldiers was that the surgeons were their best friends at the South. They would insist upon the necessity of more food being given to their patients, and remonstrate with the Rebel authorities,−unfortunately without success.

One of the officers who came at this time was Lieutenant F—, belonging to a New York regiment. He had lost a limb, and remained a few weeks in the hospital. The first letter of joyous welcome which he received from home told him that his family had been wearing mourning four months for him, and a printed funeral sermon which shortly followed the letter gave an account of his supposed death at the Battle of the Wilderness, and contained a eulogy upon his character.

I remember being particularly impressed by a description of hunger in the hospitel at Libby, given by Lieutenant William Foy Smith, who came at this time. He belonged to the First Massachusetts Cavalry. He was shot through the lungs, and left for dead on the battle-field. By the kind care of colored women, who brought him milk, he was resuscitated−to find himself a prisoner. He said that often at night in Libby he would amuse himself by calculating how many places there were in Washington Street, Boston, where edibles were to be had, and he would fancy the people getting oysters and thousands of good things; and then he would muse over all the bountiful dinners that he used to have at home, and reproach himself for not having partaken more heartily, resolving, if ever he had another opportunity, that his gnawing appetite should torever do itself justice. Then he would wildly scrape the wall by which he was lying, and ravenously devour the atoms from it, until at last he would dream in his sleep of happier days to come. After several months, Lieutenant Smith was able to rejoin his regiment, whose entrance into Richmond he thus describes : I shall never repine again, while I have health ; but who talks of repining after such a march as our last? I joined the regiment at Manchester, opposite Richmond. How often have I looked across the river to the field on which we camped, and longed for liberty! We passed in review through the city the next day. I cannot describe my sensations as I went by the old prisonhouse, with a good horse under me, one seemed hardly sufficient,−health in my veins, and freedom,−it was too much. I had to shout. A lank, unshorn Rebel was looking through the bars where I had so often looked. We had the finest of music and the gayest of banners, but the people let us have them all to ourselves. But our glorious reception in Washington repaid us.”

It was a great recompense for all his sufferings that this brave, modest young officer lived to see the day of victorious peace; but within a few months the wound from which he had partially recovered was the cause of his death.

Malarial fever was the prevalent disease in the hospital in the early autumn. Hundreds sank with it, after the hard marches and counter-marches with Sheridan in the hot Valley of the Shenandoah through the summer. Stimulating and nourishing diet came too late to many of these undermined constitutions, and disease worked its deadly ravages where ball and bayonet had missed their aim. Dr. Hunter, surgeon of a Pennsylvania regiment, lived but a short time in severe suffering. A man of strong character, his patriotism had responded when an urgent call for men had come from the War Department. Having no son to send to the war, he felt it to be his duty to leave a large practice and enlist as a private. He was immediately made surgeon of the regiment which he devotedly served for several months. His death-bed was file scene of the most serene peace. why should I stay longer below? I am only too glad to depart and be with Christ: it is far better.” These and similar words showed the tone of his mind. His earnest prayers for the nation were his last rich legacy of dying faith. He cheerfully gave his life as part of the ransom of liberty and peace.

On one of those autumnal days died, too, Major Butler. Wounded at Petersburg, one leg had been fractured in seven places, from the thigh to the ankle. Three months he lingered in distress which can be imagined, but to which his heroic spirit never gave utterance.

The hospital was brilliantly illuminated when the result of the Presidential election was made known, in November. Music and shouts of rejoicing rent the air, and all were filled with exulting confidence that the beginning of the end had been accomplished by the overwhelming verdict of the people at home.

The National Thanksgiving was celebrated by a service in the chapel, and a fine dinner, which one man said he “could not have enjoyed better had he eaten it at his grandmother’s,−only the folks would have been there.”

At last, in December, the earnest entreaties of hearts breaking with wild anguish and suspense prevailed upon the authorities in Washington to effect the release of our prisoners. To no one person was this happy result so much due as to General Mulford, our Commissioner of Exchange. He was unceasing in his exertions to accomplish this end on almost any terms, for he knew what tortures our men were enduring, and how rapidly they were dying. The soldiers looked upon him as their deliverer, and with good reason. His arduous care and kindly manner deserved their warmest enthusiasm and gratitude. His personal watchfulness in receiving the men may be illustrated by a little incident. A man who was feebly walking fell down quite exhausted, just before reaching the New York; he lay behind a pile of wood, and could not make himself heard, just as the boat was about putting off, General Mulford stepped on shore to look round and be certain that no one was left. “I should have lain there till I died had he not in his kindness found me,”said the man.

The first exchange was of ten thousand men. Large ocean steamers found their way up Chesapeake Bay, and our band played “Home again,” “Home, Sweet Home,” and other strains of welcome, to their ghastly passengers. As one man looked up. in landing, to the flag waving in the hospital grounds, he said earnestly, “We ’re glad to see you; we know there ’s grub enough under you.” Such inexpressible relief and joy were never felt by mortals before. Libby Prison and Belle Isle had startled the ear of humanity by their records of woe, but the story of Andersonville far exceeded theirs. The revolting torments inflicted in that place are too well known to need repetition. Rather let us dwell upon the happiness of those fortunate enough to escape. The hospital was crowded to its utmost capacity. Many lived only a few minutes or hours after reaching the wards ; others survived but a day or two, breathing their last in peace and comfort. An elderly man, quite pulseless when brought in, was resuscitated with brandy sufficiently to express his gratitude. “God has been very good in bringing me here,” he said, as a beam of joy irradiated his wan face ; “I can die willingly here, and lay my bones under the old flag, but I did n’t want to die down there.” And when asked if he had kept his faith in God while suffering so much at Andersonville: “O yes ! He has been my leader these twenty years, and I thought He would bring me out all right.” His name was John Buttery; he did not live long enough to hear from his wife and six children, in Connecticut.

Among the unknown was a boy apparently about seventeen years old, with clustering curls of auburn hair, and eyes, that once must have been full of life, now sending forth only a vacant stare. I worked over him, hoping to get him to utter one word before he died that would give some hint of his name or home, but in vain.

That month of December, with its cold, leaden sky, and bleak, wintry winds, will never be forgotten. On going down one dreary morning, in the obscurity of early dawn, I found that a tent in which five men dangerously ill had been left the night before was not to be seen ; at first I distrusted my senses,−it was surely the place where the tent had stood, but the only vestige left was the plank floor. On inquiry, I found that in the middle of the night the tent had blown over, and men, furniture, and all had been moved in a furious storm.

Sixty men were buried at one time, and several times over forty were borne in a long train of ambulances to the cemetery. The martial dirge, with the sound of its muffled drum, was daily mingled with the groans of the dying. Many a man who did not shrink from death still desired to live long enough to hear from his home once more, and died piteously lamenting his lot. Others, though dying, would cling to the hope of going home : and when told that the doctor feared they could not live an hour, and asked if they had any messages to leave, with their last gasp would say, “O, I shall live! I am going home to see my mother.”

In contrast with such cases were others of calm fortitude. These lines were dictated at midnight by a man who had hoped to live, but whose strength suddenly failed :−

“DEAR WIFE : − I am on my deathbed. Get N— E— to settle our affairs, draw my pay, &c. If our daughter is still living, I want her to have a share of three hundred dollars. I die under the protecting folds of the starry banner of freedom. You must take good care of the little one. Trust in God, and meet me in heaven. I bid a last farewell to all my friends. I die happy. God bless you.

“Your husband,


The friend of many came as soon as they heard of their arrival and illness, but often failed to recognize them. One woman, on being taken into the ward where her husband was asleep, persisted in saying that she had never seen that man before ; and on being shown his name and regiment on the card, she refused to be convinced, feeling sure that there must be some mistake, till he opened his eyes and greeted her by name.

On the evening of a day on which there had been a new arrival of men, I was sitting in the comfortably heated tent, while eight happy faces looked from the warmly blanketed beds. Each man had his own tale of prison experience to tell. Not for all the gold that could be heaped into this tent would I voluntarily spend one more day at Andersonville.” Another said, “We suffered enough in body; but the mental agony, the mental agony, no one can ever imagine.” And so they went on, dwelling at last upon their anxiety for home friends, wondering if mothers, wives, and children were yet alive. Then one manly voice told, in earnest tones, how he could bless the Lord for the perilous trials through which he had passed ; that he had been brought up religiously, but never had truly loved the Saviour until he became his only refuge. "His love in my heart is well worth all the discipline I have endured, and I can thank him for it.” These words came from John S. Farnell, a Michigan boy of eighteen years of age. Since the battle of Gettysburg, seventeen months before, he had been a prisoner. He enjoyed reading his own little new Bible, and the meetings for prayer and singing held in his tent. He seemed to be gaining strength, until an attack of pneumonia occurred, when the utmost care failed to save his life. He talked peacefully of dying, in intervals of consciousness, but at last sank into a heavy stupor. Just as I closed his eyes, and while he ceased to breathe, the band struck up the strain, “Do they miss me at home ?”

It needed a stout heart to turn from the frequent scenes of death, at that gloomy time, to cheer and amuse the. less dangerously ill. The coming of Christmas was a source of excitement for a few days. Some of the boys had never heard of Santa Claus and his visits down the chimney at this merry season ; and when his descent through the pipes, and passage through the stove-doors, and appearance in the tents became possibilities, there was as much amusement and anticipation among them as ever gladdened a nursery full of children. On the morning of this happy festival every man found a sock hanging by his side stuffed with mittens, scarfs, knives, suspenders, handkerchiefs, and many little things. Out of the top of each sock peeped a little flag; and as the men awoke, one by one, and examined the gifts of Santa Claus, shouts of merriment rang through the wards, and they were satisfied that he was a friend worth having.

All that was possible under the pressure of the melancholy circumstances was done to make the day a happy one ; but it was not celebrated with the same rejoicings as the year before, nor was there much time to be spared from the sick and dying. Steamers were constantly arriving, and filling up the vacant places with new patients.

On a ragged, soiled piece of paper which a man handed me on landing were these lines, written at Andersonville by a boy of sixteen who died there. They are surely worthy ot remembrance. “The voice of slander tells you
That our hearts were weak with fear,
That nearly every one of us
Was captured in the rear.
The scars upon our bodies
From the musket-ball and shell,
The missing legs and shattered arms
A truer tale will tell.
We have tried to do our duty
In the sight of God on high :
O ye who yet can save us,
Will you leave us here to die ?

“Will you leave us here to die?
When our country called for men,
We came from forge and store and mill,
The broken rank? to fill;
We left our quiet, happy homes,
And ones we loved so well,
To vanquish all the Union foes,
Or fall where others fell.
Now, in prisons drear we languish,
And it is our constant cry,
O ye who yet can save us,
Will you leave us here to die?
“There are hearts with hope still beating
In our pleasant Northern homes,
Waiting, watching for the footsteps
That may never, never come.
In Southern prisons pining,
Meagre, tattered, pale, and gaunt,
Growing weaker, weaker daily
From pinching cold and want.
Here brothers, sons, and husbands,
Poor and hopeless, captured lie :
O ye who yet can save them,
Will you leave us here to die ?
“From out our prison gate,
There ’s a grave-yard close at hand,
Where lie ten thousand Union men
Beneath the Georgia sand.
Scores and scores are laid beside them,
As day succeeds to day ;
And thus it ever will be
Till they all shall pass away,
And the last can say when dying,
With upturned and glazing eye,
Both love and faith are dead at home,−
They have left us here to die !”

A proof of the humanity with which the Rebel prisoners were treated by our government is found in the fact of their reluctance to be exchanged ; they said that they were very comfortable, and would far rather remain at the North until the war was over. One general, who was having an artificial leg made, was forced to return against his will. His entreaties to be left behind prevailed for a few days ; but at last he was obliged to take passage on the transport for exchange, as one of our own generals was awaiting his return to come home.

Among the prisoners who came in January was Boston Corbett, of the Seventeenth New York Cavalry. Every name made public even in remote connection with the death of our beloved President becomes an object of interest. The following is a characteristic letter from the brave and earnest-hearted patriot at whose hand the assassin met his doom:−

“VIENNA, VA., March 9, 1865.

“Miss —:−Many times I have

thought I would write to acknowledge the kindness shown by you and the other good ladies of the hospital to us poor soldiers when we were brought from Savannah, Andersonville, and Millen. I remember with gratitude the first kind words expressed towards us, and how strange and good they sounded after being so long deprived of them. Although they might not seem much to the giver, yet I believe they will live in the memory of us soldier boys long after the war is over. I can never forget how much was done for us all on our return from prison to hospital; but many thousands lie under the soil of Georgia, monuments of the cruelty and wickedness of this Rebellion,−the head of all the rebellions of earth for blackness and horror. Those only can feel the extent of it who have seen their comrades, as I have, lying in the broiling sun, without shelter, with swollen feet and parched skin, in filth and dirt, suffering as I believe no people ever suffered before in the world. But, thank God, these things have come, I hope, to an end. May they never exist again in the good land ! With kind regards to all,

“Very truly,


The ravages of the malignant fever which had broken out in the hospital were not confined to the patients. Surgeons and chaplain yielded their lives at its deadly touch. Then, too, was the bond severed which had harmoniously united a happy sisterhood for many months. Of the six who went down to the brink of the river of death, five crossed over to the heavenly shore. She who alone remained gives these simple memories to the reader.