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Title: Under the guns

A woman's reminiscences of the Civil War

Author: Annie Wittenmyer

Author of introduction, etc.: Julia Dent Grant

Release date: March 17, 2024 [eBook #73190]

Language: English

Original publication: Boston: E. B. Stillings & Co, 1895

Credits: David E. Brown and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Cordially Yours, Annie Wittenmyer

Cordially Yours
Annie Wittenmyer

title page



Author of “Woman’s Work for Jesus,” “A Jewelled Ministry,”
“History of the Temperance Crusade,” “The Women of
the Reformation,” an Historical Work, Etc.



By Annie Wittenmyer,












IN preparing this little volume for publication, no attempt whatever has been made to record, as facts of history, the military movements of the army during our recent Civil War. The great captains, who led the Union forces through the terrible conflict from Fort Sumter to Appomattox, have already covered, to a large extent, the military history of the war.

My purpose has been simply to bring out in connection with these great military events, with which they were so intimately connected, a few of the many incidents and heart histories that were crowded into my own life, from April 20, 1861, to Nov. 23, 1865.

The stories and reminiscences in this book are true to life, every one of them. They are told just as they occurred, without any attempt at literary embellishment; and most of them can be substantiated by living witnesses.

Camps and hospitals were established near my own home in Keokuk, Iowa, early in April, 1861. I began at once my ministrations to the sick in these newly established hospitals, and, during my daily visits, closed the eyes of the first Iowa soldier who died in the war. From that time on till the close of the war I was actively engaged all along the lines.

I was loyally and generously sustained by the women of Iowa; was elected by the Iowa Legislature sanitary agent of the State; was commissioned by Iowa’s grand old war governor, Samuel J. Kirkwood; was furnished by Secretary Stanton with a pass to all parts of the field, and government transportation for myself and supplies. This official order of Mr. Stanton’s was supplemented by the following charge:—

“It is especially enjoined upon all officers to furnish this lady every facility in carrying out her generous purposes, it being shown that she is worthy of great respect.”

I had also the co-operation of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, and the chief medical officers and government officials, so that I had unusual facilities for doing good.

I was greatly indebted to General and Mrs. Grant for sympathy and aid. When Mrs. Grant was at her husband’s headquarters the place was a haven of rest for me, and a welcome always awaited me. Indeed, Mrs. Grant would have joined me in the work, but her husband was afraid her strength and sympathies would be overtaxed. During these brief visits I learned to appreciate the unselfishness and noble qualities of General Grant, and the strength and purity of his character; and the loveliness and sterling worth of Mrs. Grant, and her wifely devotion.

I was also under great obligations to General John A. Logan, who was ever ready to aid me. When it was almost impossible to get from Bridgeport to Chattanooga, he sent me up in a little steamer which he loaded with my supplies. Later, I met Mr. Orson, the president of the United Telegraph Association; and General Logan introduced me with such kindly appreciative words, that without a hint from either of us, he filled out an order allowing me “to telegraph free to the end of the war.” I still have that little order in my possession.

It is due our brave soldiers that I should say that I felt as safe in their midst as I would have done in my own home, even though at times I was the only woman in the midst of an army of twenty thousand fighting men, as was the case at Milliken’s Bend, after the repulse of General Sherman at Haines’ Bluff.

Not one impertinent or rude word was ever spoken to me in all those years. No purer or grander army ever marched to the music of fife and drum than the army that stood for the defence of our flag and the unity of our government from 1861 to 1865.

A woman could walk in their midst in white, and a little child would have been as safe as in its mother’s arms.

As I was all along the lines from Vicksburg to Petersburg, and was on some of the bloodiest battle-fields, and as I followed Sherman’s army along the fiery lines from Chattanooga to Atlanta, I necessarily had to pass through many perils, and witness many exciting scenes. A few of these stories I have now thought best to publish.

For more than twenty years my friends have urged their publication; but I shrank from the task, because of their personal character.

In giving these simple, true stories to the public, I shall hope that the same earnest, charitable spirit will be exercised by my readers as I manifested toward the sick and wounded during my army work.


Sanatoga, Pa., Dec. 3, 1894.


THE author of this most interesting and historic volume, Mrs. Annie Wittenmyer, I very often met whilst on my frequent visits to the headquarters of my husband, General Ulysses S. Grant.

She there on her mission of mercy as she came to the front with supplies for the sick and wounded; I there simply to give the general a glimpse of his dear ones (some of the children being always with me). And I would gladly have joined Mrs. Wittenmyer in all her works of devotion; but the general forbade it, saying, when I returned from the hospitals ladened with petitions and heart-breaking stories, “Julia, cease, cease; I cannot listen; I hear this all day, every day, and I must have some rest from all this sorrow and misery. If you insist on going again to the hospitals, I will have to send you home.”

Mrs. Wittenmyer was ever deeply interested in her efforts to relieve suffering; ever appealing for the discharge of the brave men who were made helpless by their wounds; ever braving dangers and enduring hardships in the performance of her self-assumed, patriotic heart duties.

I used to look upon this brave, heroic woman with profound respect and admiration, which, if it were possible, has grown the greater in the thirty years that have passed since then.


2108 R Street, Washington, D.C.,
Nov. 27, 1894.


A Boy sent by Express, C. O. D. 5
A But’ful Guv’ment Mule 226
A Fighting Editor 86
A Painful Accident 128
A Perilous Ride 11
A Rich Reward for Services—Saving the Life of a Brother 72
A Terrible Storm at Chattanooga 51
A Visit from General Grant and General McPherson 174
A Visit to Parson Brownlow 68
A Visit to Captain Walke’s Gunboat 190
A Woman wounded in Battle 17
A Young Nurse at Gettysburg 224
Army Life at Helena, Arkansas 48
Army Tricks 41
Blowing up of Fort Hill 102
Braving Dangers 21
Bursting of a Shell behind my Carriage 131
Could you get me a Raw Onion and some Salt? 230
Exhibitions of Mother-love 142
Fred D. Grant—The Brave Orderly at Vicksburg 204
General Grant’s Kindness 43
Getting Two Thousand Sick and Wounded out of Helena 106
Hardships of Camp-life at Vicksburg 125
Healed Soul and Body 152
He died cheering the Flag 237
Hospital Abuses—Putting Logwood in the Coffee 193
How I got the Cotton 244
How Mother Bickerdyke cut Red Tape 82
How Pres. Lincoln received the News of Sheridan’s Victory 239
I have the Best Mother in the World 160
I have the Comforter 98
Johnnie Clem 36
Liberty Hicks 181
Meeting a Rebel Woman at Nashville 134
Memorial Day 272
Men who commanded Themselves and did not swear 232
My First Interview with General Grant 1
Not Time to send for the Colonel 66
Reminiscences of General Grant 202
Running the Blockade at Vicksburg 92
Saved by a Bird 78
Saved by Lemonade 62
Saving the Life of Young Pike 170
Searching for the Dead 164
Secretary Stanton’s Generous Gift 251
Sharing Poor Quarters with Dorothy L. Dix 120
The American Republic—its Glories and its Dangers 268
The Clock at Vicksburg 115
The First Soldiers wounded in the Civil War 89
The Hospitals of Vicksburg at the Time of the Surrender 186
The Hospital at Point of Rocks, Va. 209
The New York Herald Reporter who lived for Two Worlds 156
The Sad Fate of Jennie Wade 206
The Sequel to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” 247
The Special-diet Kitchen Work 259
The Surrender of Vicksburg 147
The Sweet Singer of the Hospitals 217
The Wonderful Potato-patch 58
Trading Tobacco for Coffee 183
Two Dreadful Days on the Battlefield. Shiloh 28
Very Timely Arrest 166
Visiting Hospitals under the Guns 138
We honor Our Grand Old Heroes 4







A LARGE army had been thrown in and about Cairo, Ill., and General S. R. Curtis of Iowa gave me a letter and a pass to go down and visit the hospitals there. General Grant was in command, with headquarters at Cairo. Fortunately for me, I had friends at that point. The great hospitals were at Mound City, six miles above. I missed the boat that plied between the two places at irregular hours, and my friends proposed that we call upon General Grant. We found the modest, quiet, uncrowned hero busy at his desk, with his staff and orderlies about him. I was painfully conscious that I had no business of sufficient importance to warrant such an intrusion upon the man who stood between us and the army threatening that city that hour. I had not thought of that before coming. But I felt very grateful[2] to my friend, who came at once to my aid, by explaining that I had come down from St. Louis to visit the hospitals, and was the bearer of a letter and pass from General Curtis, and that I also had a pass from General Frémont, and had merely called to pay my respects.

We fell at once into pleasant conversation, and I found that the General was personally acquainted with friends and relatives of my own.

“I will send you up to Mound City,” he said.

“Oh, don’t trouble yourself. I can go up to-morrow,” I urged.

But he was writing an order, and soon despatched an orderly with it to Captain somebody. Immediately my pride took alarm. What if he should send me to Mound City on one of those screaming, whistling little tug-boats?

“Have you met my medical director?” he asked.

“No, I have not met him,” I was forced to answer.

“I will send him up with you,” and an orderly was despatched to command his presence. Directly the boat was reported as ready; and the General himself accompanied me to the boat—the City of Memphis—the largest and finest steamer on the Mississippi River.

The General simply said, “Take this lady to Mound City, and remain till she is ready to return. Wait for the Medical Director, and till I leave the[3] boat.” So I was for a little space of time the commander of the biggest steamer on the Mississippi River. As I walked the length of that great boat, so rich and gaudy in tinsel and curtains and furniture, the patriotic blood coursed hotly through my veins. Why this extravagance? Why this pomp and display? And when the medical director, who was supposed to be in charge of all of the sick and dying in that great army, came in full military dress, with gloves and sash and sword and spurs, my heart sank down to zero. But I was not long in reaching the truth, and changing my mind. A dozen boats or more had just been impressed into the United States service, and lay there at the wharf with steam up. They had not yet been dismantled; and it was the kindly, proper thing to do to send me to Mound City, and it was military etiquette for the medical director to dress as he did. I was afterwards on the same boat many times; once after Sherman’s defeat at Yazoo, when there were seven hundred and fifty wounded and sick soldiers on board. General Grant was just gathering these boats, and these forces, that he might move on Fort Donelson.




We honor our grand old heroes
Who stood in the thick of the fight,
Where deadly missiles were flying,
And valiantly fought for the right.
They stood with God in the conflict,
They fought on God’s side in the fray;
The Lord and his angels helped them,
And Freedom and Right won the day.
Sacred to Freedom forever
Is the soil where they fought and bled;
No bondsman shall wear a shackle,
No tyrant shall lift up his head.
Above the flags of all nations
Our beautiful banner floats high;
Its stars like the stars of heaven,
And its blue as blue as the sky.
Long may it wave in its beauty,
The symbol of Freedom and Right;
Not a star be lost from its azure,
Not a blot stain its spotless white!



IN the winter of 1862, just before General Grant moved upon Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, I went out to Sedalia, Mo., with a heavy lot of supplies.

Sedalia is 188 miles south-west of St. Louis, and was an important military station at that time.

The people in that section were very disloyal and belligerent.

The train on which I journeyed was fired into three times the day I made the journey, by “bushwhackers,” men who carried on an irregular warfare.

The train was well guarded. There were at least fifty well-armed Union soldiers on board to guard it, who took turns on the platform, ready to spring off, gun in hand, if the train were attacked. But when a volley was fired into the train, before the engineer could stop it, and the soldiers could get started in pursuit, the enemy had mounted their horses, and were far away. When the second volley crashed into the train, a bullet passed through the window beside me,[6] and whizzed very near to my eyes. If it had come a little closer, it would have gone through both of them. Fortunately I had just leaned back against the seat; for if I had been sitting in an upright position, as I was a few moments before, the ball would have gone through my head.

A mother and her little girl, who was five or six years old, sat in the seat in front of me. The poor little child was so terrified that she tried to hide under the seat. Her appeals, as she lifted her beautiful tear-stained face, were very touching.

“Do you think they’ll fire again, mamma?”

“I hope not, my darling,” and the mother would tenderly cover her with the skirts of her dress, and try to soothe her.

“O mamma! do get down on the floor; if you don’t, you might get killed.”

It was pitiful to see a child in such terror, crouching on the floor.

We did not reach Sedalia till midnight, and it was not till the train drew up at the station that the child could be comforted.

The next morning early I went into the nearest hospital. The building was an old, dilapidated frame structure, that had been used as a store. Scores of wounded and sick men were crowded into these poor narrow quarters.

But it is not my purpose just now to speak of them, or of the hospital management, but of a child I found there.

[7]He was lying on a cot in a little back room. They called him “Willie.” He said he was “goin’ on eight;” but if he was that old, he was very small of his age. His face was wondrous fair and beautiful, and his hair hung in golden ringlets about his head. He had been very ill, and was still too weak to leave his bed. But he was bright and happy, and a great favorite with the men, who, lying on their beds, whittled toys for Willie with their pocket-knives out of anything they could utilize for that purpose, such as sticks and bones.

I took a great deal of pains to ascertain the facts about the boy. He was a fatherless, motherless child, who had followed the soldiers when they marched away from the town where he was temporarily staying. No one cared, and no one followed to bring him back, and so he went on with them.

The simple story, as he told it, seemed to be sustained by the facts I afterwards gathered.

“I wanted to go to the war,” he said; “I had no mother, and I did not want to stay at that place. I did not like the people, so when the soldiers went to the war I went too. Some of the men said, that first day, ‘Little boy, you had better run back home;’ but I told them I had no home, that my mother was dead, and that I was not going back; that I was going to the war, so they put me in a wagon to ride. At night I had[8] no place to sleep; but a man who said he had a little boy at home, about as big as me, said I could sleep with him, and he hugged me up under his blanket.

“Then after that I had a place in a wagon, the colonel said I might. Sometimes I rode on the horses behind the big officers. But they wouldn’t let me go to fight; they made me stay back in the wagon. I didn’t like that; I wanted to go to the fights.”

A few days after I found Willie I was in the hospital, when a gentleman came in seeking some one. He was from Ohio. He happened to see Willie, and was wonderfully attracted to the child, and Willie seemed to take a great fancy to the gentleman. He came daily to see Willie during his stay in Sedalia. “This child,” he said to me one day, with tears in his eyes, “looks so much like my own boy, my only child, who died a few months ago, that I want to adopt him if my wife will consent. But her heart is so nearly broken by grief, that she may shrink from the plan.”

I told him that I, too, had taken a great fancy to the boy, and had determined that he should have a good home, and that through my friend, General Curtis, who commanded at St. Louis, I should hold the boy till the best of references were furnished. To this he made no objections; and as soon as he reached St. Louis he sent the very best indorsements, furnishing the most ample[9] evidence that he was in every way worthy of such a charge, as he was a wealthy Christian gentleman. Dr. Irwin, Acting Medical Director, readily concurred; and it was agreed that if, when the boy was able to travel, they wanted him, he should be sent.

Soon after he reached home, a telegram came: “All right—send Willie by express, C. O. D.” (collect on delivery). When the contents of the telegram became known, there was great excitement among the patients. How could they part with Willie? And yet as he was to have a good home they rejoiced with Willie, who was delighted with the news that he was to go.

As soon as he was able to travel, we prepared him for the journey. His name and address, and name and address of the gentleman to whom we were sending him, were written with ink on white muslin, and sewed to his coat and jacket, and on the shawl we wrapped about him, and on the blanket we bundled him up in.

A stalwart expressman came for him, and, after giving a regular receipt for him, took him up in his arms to carry him away. Dr. Irwin and the surgeons of the hospital, and even the nurses and cooks, all came to bid Willie good-by. His farewells were very touching.

When he was carried from his little room out into the main ward, a few golden curls lay out on the folds of the coarse gray blanket, and his[10] laughing eyes turned kindly from one to another, as they called to him: “Good-by, Willie!” “Be a good boy, Willie.” “Don’t forget me, Willie.”

As we were about to pass through the last door-way, Willie, who had said “good-by” to each one as they greeted him, called out at the top of his voice, “Good-by, everybody.” There was a chorus of good-bys in response; but an Irishman by the door was heard above them all, as he said:—

“Good luck to ye now! and may ye live a hundred years, and get into heaven afore the Divil has a chance at ye.”

We accompanied him to the train, the surgeons and myself, and saw him safely aboard with his luncheon; and we stood there together in silence as the train pulled out, for a vacancy was felt in every heart.

A telegram was received a few days later, telling us that Willie had arrived safely.

A great deal was crowded into the next few months. Battle after battle followed. Fort Henry and Fort Donelson had fallen, Nashville had surrendered, the bloody struggle at Pittsburg Landing had taken place, and the Union forces had taken possession of Corinth, Miss.; but Willie was not forgotten.

The gentleman adopted him as his own child, and his wife was greatly comforted by the presence and love of little Willie.



IN digging the ship canal across the point opposite Vicksburg, hundreds of men were killed or wounded in the great trench. By long practice the gunners on the bluffs of Vicksburg acquired the ability to drop a shell into the great ditch, causing terrible slaughter. The heavy guns of the Union forces answered the enemy’s batteries, but failed to silence them. “Whistling Dick,” as we all soon learned to call one great cannon used by the enemy, kept the music going night and day. The loud, clear, musical whistle which accompanied every discharge won for that gun the attention of all. “Whistling Dick” was a gun of long range, and was effective in execution, especially along the canal. But one day, after a loud, sharp whistle, there was an explosion, and “Whistling Dick” was heard no more. The work of death went on, however; for there were other effective guns, and the most determined resistance to the project of the Union troops was shown.

The wounded soldiers were taken to a hospital[12] hastily improvised at a point just opposite Vicksburg, where, although more than a mile nearer the enemy, with only the Mississippi River between them, they were nevertheless comparatively safe, being protected by a high embankment. I had been sending supplies to this little hospital with lavish hand. It seemed dreadful that wounded men should lie there night and day under the guns of two armies, the battle always on, the shriek and thunder of shell and shot over them, and all around them, and shaking the very earth on which they lay. Weary, homesick, and suffering, they were isolated from the army and from all other companionship, except that of the surgeon and his force of detailed soldiers. But this surgeon (I have forgotten his name, or I would mention it with the highest respect) was a thoughtful and kind-hearted man, who desired the best for his men and heartily sympathized with them. One day he came into my quarters on the Sanitary boat with radiant face. He had thought of something which would please his “boys,” and that was that I should visit them. At first the thing seemed impossible. The distance was many miles. I could not go in an ambulance, or on foot, and the dangers of the journey were appalling. But he had thought of all that, and explained the whole scheme. He could get a good, safe horse, and I could ride on a cavalry saddle; and although there was some water in the[13] canal, and the banks were steep, the crossing was entirely safe, and there were places where the horse could climb.

I could not refuse to go to the men who had faced the cannon, and gone down wounded and helpless to the gates of death for my country and my flag. General Cyrus Bussey, who was afterwards the Assistant-Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and his plucky, lovely little wife, who is now among the glorified in heaven, volunteered to accompany me. Mrs. Bussey had her own horse and a side-saddle. I had a great raw-boned animal, which looked as though he had been in several wars, with a good new cavalry saddle, which some officer had kindly lent for the occasion. “This horse is good and safe,” the surgeon explained, by way of apology; “they say he wouldn’t shy or jump if a shell burst just before him.”

The guns of two armies were screaming over us when we reached the point which our guide designated as “the safe place to cross the canal.” He did not know that some of the barriers at the mouth of the canal had given way, and that the water in the canal was several feet deeper than when he had crossed that morning. The tide was swift and turbulent; but the surgeon said cheerfully, “It’s perfectly safe; just follow me.” The next moment his horse went down into the muddy, swirling flood, and, struggling heroically, swam to the opposite shore.

[14]The surgeon called back to us that he had missed the crossing, and designated a point a little higher up, which, as he said, “was perfectly safe.” I had misgivings, but, settling myself well in the saddle, gave the horse loose rein. He marched bravely in, and went down into the flood with a plunge. General Bussey, fearing I would be drowned, spurred his horse in after me, and the two brave animals struggled together until we reached the opposite shore. Thanks to my Kentucky training, I kept the saddle, and the only damage done was a good drenching.

As General Bussey expressed a wish that Mrs. Bussey should not attempt to cross, she remained at a cabin near by, which was somewhat protected, till we returned.

Reaching the embankment opposite Vicksburg we scattered, the surgeon taking the lead. I followed about fifty yards behind him, and General Bussey about fifty yards behind me. The road was fair, and we flew over that stretch at a full gallop. My shaggy, raw-boned steed made good time. It was a wild ride. We were surrounded by batteries. The mortar boats of the Union army, placed as near to Vicksburg as possible, were sending their uncertain shells thundering over our heads into the doomed city with deafening fury. The heavy guns along the heights of Vicksburg were answering the long line of batteries and heavy mounted guns on our side of the river;[15] and only the river lay between us and the enemies’ works. Shot and shell screamed over us. Sometimes it seemed as if the sky was torn to pieces above us; but my horse did not flinch. On and on we went, in a full gallop. If a gun was levelled at us that day from any of the near batteries, we were not in range when the shot came over, and so we reached the hospital in safety.

What shall I say of this hospital? What can I say of these wounded, suffering men? Language is inadequate to describe their condition. Longing for home and mother, for human sympathy, their moans were answered only by the guns. They longed for quiet and sleep, but the guns of two armies were thundering night and day over their heads. How could flesh and blood, brain and nerve, endure it? My garments were still dripping, but I went from cot to cot to speak the words of cheer. The men tried to express their thanks for my coming in a befitting manner; but their “God bless you for coming!” was choked with tears. As I saw those brave men lying there weak and helpless, and every nerve racked with the thunders of battle, I could not beat back my own tears. Indeed, as I live it all over again, and write of it, the tears will come again, although more than thirty years have rolled by since that time. I sobbed out as best I could: “God bless you, boys; keep good courage. I will get you out of this if it is possible.”

[16]The return trip was safely made. Again we swam the canal; Mrs. Bussey joined us, and we returned to camp. The next morning I called on General Grant, and reported the condition of these wounded men. General Grant was most thoughtful and careful of his sick and wounded. He took in the situation at once. Calling Rawlins, he said, “Those wounded men must be moved from the Point right away. Send an order to the medical director to that effect.” And that night, under the cover of the darkness, they were removed to hospitals at Milliken’s Bend, twenty-five miles away from the belching batteries.



A WOMAN who had served as a private soldier in the ranks was severely wounded and taken prisoner at Chickamauga. She fell in a charge made upon the Confederates; and as the troops immediately fell back she was left with the other wounded on the field, in the enemy’s lines. As she was dressed as the other soldiers were, her sex was not discovered till she was under a surgeon’s care in the hospital. She was wounded in the thigh. No bones were broken; but it was a deep, ugly flesh wound, as if torn by a fragment of a shell.

A day or two afterwards she was sent with a flag of truce into the Union lines.

The sum and substance of the official message sent with this woman was: “As the Confederates do not use women in war, this woman, wounded in battle, is returned to you.” There was great indignation in the regiment to which this woman belonged; and officers and men hastened to protest, that, although she had been with them for more than a year, not one in the regiment suspicioned[18] that she was a woman. She stood the long, hard marches, did full duty on the picket-line and in camp, and had fought well in all the battles in which the regiment took part. She was in the hospital at Chattanooga for some time, where I first met her. When she was able to bear the transportation, she was removed to a hospital at Nashville. I met her there again and again, and tried to ascertain why she had enlisted.

“Had you a husband in the regiment?” I questioned.


“A lover or friend?”

“No, I didn’t know any of them.”

“Well, why did you enlist?”

“I thought I’d like camp-life, and I did.”

“You did your full share of the hard work, I am told, marching, going on picket duty, and chopping wood?”

“Yes; I was put on detail just like the others, and I never made any excuse. I was awfully afraid they would find me out, and then I’d have to go.”

“But they did not find you out?”

“No; not till I was wounded. The most I care about now is that they won’t let me go back.”

“Where did you come from? and what is your real name?”

“I don’t want to tell, and I sha’n’t tell, either.”

When she was able to sit up the question of[19] clothing became an important one. The surgeon said, “She must have women’s clothes to put on.” We women from the North, by gift and by purchase, provided the necessary outfit for a woman’s wardrobe. To raise some funds for her we had her photograph taken, first in the uniform of a private soldier, and then dressed as a woman. She sold them to soldiers and visitors for twenty-five cents each, and raised considerable money. I have the two I purchased, which I have treasured in my war album all these years. She was stout and muscular, with heavy features, high cheek bones, and her black abundant hair was cut very close. She was perhaps twenty-six or twenty-eight years old, but when in her military rig looked like a beardless boy.

The time came at last when she must be dismissed from the hospital; and I was commissioned by the officers to find out all I could about her, and where she lived, as she had been more friendly to me than to the others. The interview was a long one. I can give only the main points. “The time has come,” I said, “when you must be sent out of the hospital. Where do you wish to go?”

“I’ll stay in Nashville,” she answered.

“But you can’t stay in Nashville. This city is within the military lines, and no one can come in, stay here, or go out of this town, without a pass. You have come into these lines in disguise as a soldier, but you are now known. So if you will[20] not go willingly, you will be sent out in charge of a provost marshal. That is, you will be taken under arrest by the government officers to Louisville, and left there. Then what will you do? You are not strong enough to do hard work, and I doubt if you could get any work there to do.”

“I’m awfully sorry I can’t go back into the army.”

“You certainly cannot, the case is too well known; and recruiting officers have been warned, and will be on the lookout hereafter. If you will give your name and place of residence, the government will send you home, and the trip will not cost you anything.”

“If I tell you my name, and the place I wish to go to, will you keep it a secret?”

“I will be obliged to tell the officers.”

“Will you ask them not to publish it?”

“I certainly will; and I will never tell it to any one, except the officers from whom I will get the order for pass and transportation.”

“I will trust you,” she said; and she whispered her name and residence. Two days after that she was on her way to her home in the Northwest.

I never knew what became of her.



IN December, 1862, General W. T. Sherman gathered his forces at the landing at Helena, Ark., and on the 21st of the month the great fleet, with flags flying, moved down the Mississippi River. A very strict order had been issued by him against any citizen or reporter accompanying the expedition; and severe penalties were threatened in case the order should be disobeyed.

It was well known that the movement was against Vicksburg, but the bravest reporter feared to defy that order.

As some time passed without news of Sherman’s army, the Blue Wing was sent down with communications, but she was captured by the Confederates. The government finally decided to send down two gunboats and the White Cloud, a wooden steamer. I at once asked the privilege of loading the White Cloud with sanitary supplies. Mr. Plattenburg, agent of the Sanitary Commission, who was also at Helena, had a heavy lot of supplies.

As I had a pass for myself and all goods, from[22] the Secretary of War, I had no trouble in securing a passage on the White Cloud. I do not recall as to how Mr. Plattenburg secured the privilege of going with the little expedition; I only know that he went, and that the boat was loaded with our supplies.

Thousands of soldiers were about the landing when our little fleet moved out with banners flying. We all knew that untold dangers were before us. And our heroism created the greatest enthusiasm. When the White Cloud moved out into the channel and turned her prow down stream, I stepped out “on the guards” to take a last look at Helena. My appearance was greeted with such an outburst of applause from the thousands on the wharf that I fled to the cabin, after waving my handkerchief in acknowledgment of the salute.

We were fired into frequently from the banks. Whenever we reached a point of especial danger the White Cloud was sent eight or ten miles in advance so as to draw the enemy’s fire, and thus uncover his batteries; for it was not likely that if the gunboats were in sight we would be attacked. Every moment, night and day, we were in expectation of shot or shell from some concealed battery from the shore. But they had been forewarned that the gunboats were coming, and so did not attempt to capture the White Cloud. The sharpshooters on the shore fired into us again[23] and again. No one was killed; but sleep and rest were impossible, and there were many narrow escapes. We reached Milliken’s Bend one morning about daylight, to find General Sherman’s army quartered there.

There was a great fleet of boats, and the sick and wounded were on them. A tugboat was detailed to me; and I went with my supplies from boat to boat, distributing such comforts and delicacies as I had, to the men who had been wounded in the fight near Vicksburg. It was decided by the medical authorities to send a steamer up the river with a load of the wounded at once. The City of Memphis, the largest steamer on the Mississippi River, was selected for this purpose. A regiment and a battery were removed from the boat, and she was put in order; that is, the filth was shovelled overboard.

I was told by a chaplain at the time that there were so many of our men dying that the firing of salutes over their graves was ordered discontinued. The constant noise of funerals was demoralizing. During the afternoon the boat was loaded up with the worst patients on the several boats. They were placed in the berths, and under the berths, and on the floor, and out upon the guards. Wherever there was a place where a fever-stricken, or a torn and broken body could be laid, it was occupied. About seven hundred and fifty were put on board.

[24]The sun was sinking;-behind the long, low line of cypress trees, festooned with their trailing mosses, when our boat turned her prow up the Mississippi River.

Long rows of men lay on the floor with their knapsacks for their pillows. Among them was a Missouri soldier, severely wounded and delirious, who all the night long called piteously for his sister.

His cry, “O sister!” was so plaintive and pathetic that I would go to him every little while and ask,

“What do you want?”

“I am glad you have come—I want a drink of water.”

When the water was given he would remain quiet for a little time. The next morning, as soon as it was light, he was taken to the amputating-table, and one of his limbs sawed off above the knee. He sank very low under the operation—so low that no attempt was made to remove him from the table. The surgeon in charge said to me, “Get him to take some food or drink if you can; he is sinking very fast.” I offered him every delicacy in my possession, but he turned away in disgust. There had been some of my supplies transferred to this boat. While working with the men on the lower deck, and helping dress their wounds, I found a barrel of sauer-kraut. I allowed the attendants to open it; but afterwards, as I[25] came up to the upper cabin, I called the surgeon’s attention to it, so as not to be blamed in the matter if the results were bad.

It happened that I met him near the amputating-table. As I passed the patient I turned to give him a sympathetic look. He beckoned to me, and I hastened to him. “I want some kraut,” he said.

I stepped over to where the surgeon was ministering to a man, and questioned as to whether it was best to grant his request. “Give him anything he wants—he can’t live anyway,” was his answer. I sent an attendant down to get the kraut; and he brought up a big tin cup full, and placed it on his breast and went his way.

Shortly afterwards, passing that way, I noticed him, feebly, ravenously trailing the kraut to his mouth; and I never saw any one eat as much kraut as he did in my life. He never stopped till he emptied the cup. No one attempted to hinder him, as it was expected he would die soon. From that hour he began to mend, and by the time we reached St. Louis his case was considered hopeful.

Months afterwards, as I was passing through one of the St. Louis hospitals, I heard the thud, thud, of crutches coming after me. I turned to see who was following me; and a merry voice greeted me, “Here’s your sauer-kraut man! Here’s your sauer-kraut man!” And there, sure enough, was my Missouri soldier, able to get around lively on crutches, and as blithe and merry as though he[26] had never felt the keen edge of the surgeon’s knife.

The dangers and hardships of that trip can never be forgotten. There were many touching incidents. If this little story falls under the eyes of that Missouri soldier, I would like to hear from him.

He told me, that day that I last met him, his story, which was full of the pathos of home love and tender sacrifices. He was the youngest of his father’s family; and they did not want to spare him to the country, though they were loyal to the Stars and Stripes. But the lawless bands of marauders, who were significantly called “Bushwhackers,” were prowling over the State of Missouri, and his life was unsafe. He did not venture to sleep in a house for months before he left his home, and at last sleeping in the bushes became dangerous. Several times, as he was asleep out in the undergrowth, he narrowly escaped the bushwhackers, who were seeking him. I never saw him again, but hope he got back to his own home safely.

During the trip up to Cairo twenty died, one with lockjaw. It was pitiful to see a great stalwart man deprived of the power of speech, starving to death. Not one particle of food could pass between his closely-set teeth. His mind was clear, and daily he wrote out his requests in regard to his friends and other matters.

[27]Never was ocean traveller gladder to see the headlands of his own native country than were we to see Cairo. A company of ladies came on board, fresh nurses and surgeons were obtained, also comforts for the wounded in the shape of cots, mattresses, etc. Many of the patients were removed from the overcrowded boat into comfortable hospitals at Cairo, thus relieving all parties. As soon as the boat landed, I went to the house of a friend; and as I had not had one hour of unbroken sleep for about ten days, I redeemed the time by taking a nap thirty-six hours long.



THE hospital steamer on which myself and two other ladies took passage to Pittsburg Landing from Cairo, Ill., reaching Savannah, Tenn., eight miles below there, about four o’clock A.M., April 7. There we heard the news of the terrible battle that had been fought the day before. Some said: “The Union army is defeated and driven to the very banks of the river, and are all likely to be captured to-day.” We were soon out of our berths and on the outlook. The boat, with a full head of steam, made all possible speed to reach Pittsburg Landing.

Two gunboats, the Tyler and the Lexington, lay out in the stream, sending shot and shell over the heads of the Union Army into the Confederate ranks. As the boat steamed up to the Landing, where already a great fleet of steamers was lying, the shells went screaming over our heads with deafening fury. All was in seeming confusion at the Landing. The roadways, dug out of the steep bank, were insufficient for such an emergency.[29] In the hard fight on the day before, a vast amount of ammunition had been used, and the officers all well knew that with the dawn of the coming day the battle would be renewed with desperate fury. Every teamster was, therefore, doing his utmost to get ammunition and provisions to the front. They would bring their mules to the steep, roadless bank, that stood at an angle of forty-five degrees; and while the driver held the lines with a strong, steady hand, and set his boot heels so as to keep a standing position as he ploughed his way to the bottom, his mules put their little front feet down, settled themselves on their haunches, on which the wagon rested, and skeeted to the bottom with the driver. It was a wild sight. Each teamster had an assistant who held a torch made of pine. Hundreds of torches lighted up the black night. There was a clamor that cannot be described in the loading up, and a steady stream of loaded wagons going up the hill by the regular roadways.

As soon as the first rays of the morning light made objects distinct, the firing began. Both armies had rested, face to face, on their arms, and a hasty breakfast had been snatched of what they could get before daylight, for all well knew that a bloody day was before them. Each man, as he lifted his head from the ground where he had pillowed it the night before, wondered if he should live to see the setting of another sun.

[30]Our hospital boat was lying alongside of other steamers. The rain was falling steadily. We could hear the heavy guns, the screaming of the shells, the thunder of the battle going on near by. As the light increased, we shivered to see the wounded lying on bags of grain and out on the guards, and the dead, who had been carried from the boats, lying mangled and bloody along the shore of the river. At first we could only cover our faces with our hands in a shiver and chill of agony, in the attempt to hide the horrid sights of war from our eyes.

But as we stood there a feeble hand was lifted, and a feeble voice called out,—

“Say, lady! Can’t you bring me a drink of water?”

Immediately a hundred hands were lifted. We could scarcely see them in the faint light of the early morning, but we could hear the voices.

“Bring me some water.”

“Bring me something to eat.”

I called out cheerily,—

“Yes, yes; we’ll help you all we can.”

It was a great relief to have something to do. We went with gladness to our work. I was the pioneer, and went right onto the boat lying nearest.

The surgeon in charge of our hospital boat had gone off to the field. There was no one in authority left on the boat, and we took possession.

[31]I had several boxes of canned oysters, and three or four barrels of crackers, but we soon exhausted these; then we began on the beef in the storeroom.

Barrels of soup were made and distributed. The other two ladies made the soup, and I distributed it from boat to boat, and from one to another. Oh, the sights and scenes I witnessed that day!

As I was carrying a bucket of soup across a gang-plank, an officer met me. He came bounding forward, with his sword clanging by his side.

“Madam,” he said, “what are you doing?”

I was startled nearly out of my wits, but I managed to say,—

“I am carrying soup to the wounded.”

“Why, you ought not to do that. See here, soldier, I detail you to carry soup for this woman.”

The soldier sprang forward and took the bucket of soup from my hand, and the officer went on. I never knew who he was. If this falls under his eyes, I want to thank him for his thoughtfulness. On and on, all day, I went with my assistant, while the two lady helpers worked as fast as they possibly could, to get the food ready.

The distribution of food was very rapid. Men with broken legs and arms and gashed faces would hold out their tin cups or canteens to be filled. The tin cups were easily filled, but the canteens took longer. When they saw us coming, they[32] would pound on the floor or on the side of the boat, calling piteously,—

Don’t pass me by. I am here, lady; please give me some soup.”

“Please, lady, pour some water on my arm, it is so dry and hot and the wound hurts so.”

Without a moment’s relaxation the day passed in this kind of work.

In the afternoon the gunboats stopped firing, and the news came that the Confederates were driven back.

Oh, how much that meant to us all; for through all that morning the boats had their full head of steam on, so that if the army was driven to the river, as many as possible could escape by that means.

Now and then I would help a surgeon who was dressing some of the worst wounds. My clothing was wet and muddy to the knees, and covered with blood, but I did not see it. I had not eaten a mouthful of food since the night before, but I did not know it. I was entirely unconscious of weariness and human needs.

It was about ten o’clock at night when some one asked,—

“Did you have supper?” This little question called me to the consciousness of my condition.

“No,” I answered; “I have not had a mouthful to eat since yesterday evening.”

A surgeon operating near by looked at me earnestly,[33] and then said, with the voice of authority,—

“Madam, stop work immediately. We will have you on our hands next.”

I was cutting a fragment of a blue blouse away from the arm of a wounded young soldier. I continued my work till the bits of the blouse were gotten out, as far as I could see, then laid on a wet compress.

“Oh! thank you,” he said, with grateful tears in his eyes.

I went back to the cabin of the hospital boat and had my supper. After changing my clothes I sat down on a divan, feeling almost too weak and exhausted to stir. A chaplain came on the boat, inquiring for me. When he met me he seized my hand and began to bellow. I have never heard anything like it. When I saw him, I knew that he was crazy. The officers of the boat ran back to see what was the matter, and somehow the surgeon in charge managed to get him into a stateroom and lock him in, and place guards at the door, and the next day he was sent up with the other patients to St. Louis on that boat.

Early the next morning I was transferred with the little baggage I had to another boat set aside for hospital workers. My fine dress, which I had worn for the first time the day before, was wet and muddy, and I pitched it into the river.

[34]Dr. Grinstead, now living in Washington City, was placed in charge of the boat.

The Confederates had retreated toward Corinth, Miss., but there was still firing in the distance. Early in the day I went up the steep bank and out on the battle-field.

The wounded had been gathered up as far as I could see, but many of the dead were still lying where they fell.

Not far from the landing there were some tents. In one of these tents a son of Sam Houston, of Texas, lay on the ground with others, the gray and the blue lying together. Young Houston was severely wounded in the thigh. I talked with him kindly of his grand, loyal father, and ministered to him as best I could. I saw him many times afterwards, the last time a prisoner at Camp Douglass, near Chicago. If this by any possibility passes under his notice, and he has not forgotten my treatment of him when he was a wounded prisoner, I will be glad to hear from him. I went toward a house on the right, but before I reached it I saw two men coming, carrying a wounded soldier.

They had made a seat by clasping their hands, and his arms were thrown about their necks. I went forward to meet them.

“Oh, set me down by that tree! I can go no farther,” he cried.

They carried him as tenderly as they could, and[35] placed him between the great roots of a very large tree. His breast was bare, and the blood was slowly oozing out of a wound in his lungs.

“I am dying,” he said, “can’t somebody pray?” Both men were weeping. If he was not a brother, he was a friend; I answered promptly, “I can pray.” I knelt there on the damp ground, and taking one of his hands in my own, I asked in simple words the heavenly Father to forgive and bless. He responded to each petition. I kept on praying till he said, “The way is light now, I do not fear.” There was a little gasp, a shiver, and all was still. As I knelt there I closed his eyes and said,—

“He is dead.”

“Yes,” they answered with a sob.

“He is dead, and this is all we can do. We will report the case, and have the grave marked.” And we turned away and left him there. An hour afterwards I returned that way. It was a most impressive sight to see a dead man sitting there so calmly and peacefully, with eyes closed, dead and cold. When I passed that way again, they had taken him away.

The country can never pay those who went out and heroically defended the flag. Such scenes as these bring gray hairs before their time to those who looked on. What must it have been to those in the midst of the fight?



The Drummer Boy of Shiloh and the Boy Hero of Chickamauga, Chattanooga.

JOHNNIE CLEM, who lived at Newark, Ohio, was perhaps the youngest and smallest recruit in the Union Army. The army historian, Lossing, says that he was probably the youngest person who ever bore arms in battle.

He was born at Newark, Ohio, Aug. 13, 1851, and his full name was John Winton Clem. He was of German-French descent, and the family spell the name Klem, and not Clem. His sister Lizzie, who is now Mrs. Adams, and lives on the Granville road near Newark, gives the following statement to a visitor:—

It being Sunday, May 24, 1861, and the rebellion in progress, Johnnie said at dinner table,—

“Father, I’d like mighty well to be a drummer boy. Can’t I go into the Union army?”

“Tut! my boy, what nonsense! You are not ten years old,” was the father’s reply; and he thought no more about it. When he disappeared, he had no thought that he had gone into the service.[37] That afternoon Johnnie took charge of his sister Lizzie, seven years old, and his little brother Lewis, five years old, and took them to the Sunday-school room, and left them there.

As Johnnie did not return, the father and step-mother were greatly distressed, fearing he had gone to the canal and gone in for a swim, for he was an expert swimmer, and had been drowned. They searched far and near to find him, and had the water drawn from the head of the canal that they might find his body, but all in vain. Several weeks past before they heard from him, and then they got word through a woman living at Mount Vernon, who had been a neighbor to them at Newark, that Johnnie had been there, and that she had sent him home in care of the conductor.

It seems that Johnnie moved on the sympathies of the conductor, who took him on to Columbus, where he joined the Twenty-fourth Ohio Regiment; but ascertaining that an uncle was in that regiment, he left it and joined the Twenty-second Michigan.

He was an expert drummer; and being a bright, cheerful little fellow, he soon won his way into the confidence and affection of officers and men.

He was in many battles; at Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Nashville, and Kenesaw, and in other engagements in which the Army of the Cumberland took part.

When he entered the army, being too young[38] to be mustered in, he went with the regiment, the Twenty-second Michigan, as a volunteer, until the battle of Shiloh.

When he was beating the long roll at the battle of Shiloh, a piece of shell struck his drum and sent it flying in fragments. He was after that called “Johnnie Shiloh.”

He was afterwards mustered in, and served also as a marker, and with his little musket so served on the battle-field of Chattanooga. At the close of that bloody day, the brigade in which he was, being partly surrounded by rebels, was retreating, when he, being unable to fall back as fast as the rest of the line, was singled out by a rebel colonel who rode up to him with the summons, “Scoundrel, halt! Surrender, you —— little Yankee!”

Johnnie halted, and brought his gun into position as though he was about to surrender, thus throwing the colonel off his guard. In another moment the gun was cocked, fired, and the colonel fell dead from his horse.

His regiment was pursued, and a volley was fired at that moment, and Johnnie fell as though he had been killed, and lay there on the field until it was dark enough for him to slip away unnoticed. At Chickamauga he was struck with a fragment of a shell in the hip. He was taken prisoner with others while detailed to bring up a supply train from Bridgeport, Ala.

[39]He fared hard as a prisoner. His sister, Mrs. Adams, says, “The rebels stripped him of everything—his clothes, his shoes, his little gun—an ordinary musket, I suppose, cut short—and his little cap. He said he did not care about anything but his cap; he did want to save that, and it hurt him sorely to part with it, for it had three bullet holes through it.” When exchanged he was given a furlough and sent home for a week. He was weak and emaciated from starvation, and his clothes were a bundle of rags. He had been absent about two years in the army, and was at that time in his twelfth year.

I did not meet him at Shiloh, but became acquainted with him at Chattanooga, when he was in the hospital there, and saw him frequently when he was on General Thomas’s staff.

He was a fair and beautiful child then, about twelve years old, but very small of his age. He was at that time only about thirty inches high and weighed about sixty pounds.

At Atlanta, while in the act of delivering a despatch from General Thomas to General Logan, a ball struck the head of his pony obliquely, killing him, and wounding his little rider in the right ear.

For his heroic conduct, he was made a sergeant, and his name placed on the Roll of Honor, and he was attached to Headquarters of the Army of the Cumberland.

Shortly afterwards he received from Nettie M.[40] Chase, the daughter of Chief Justice Chase, a silver medal inscribed:—

Sergeant Johnnie Clem,

which he worthily wears as a badge of honor on his left breast with other medals.

When the war was over, General Thomas advised him to study and make a man of himself. He studied at West Point, but on account of his size he could not enter as a cadet. In 1890 he weighed one hundred and five pounds and was only five feet high. His wife, Annita, the daughter of General Wm. H. French, U.S.A., is also small and delicate, weighing about seventy pounds. General Grant commissioned him as a lieutenant. He is now captain of the twenty-fourth U.S. Infantry, and is stationed at Columbus, Ohio, and holds the important office of depot quartermaster and commissary.

He has one son living, who is very like him, only he will be larger.

From recent correspondence he seems to be the same kindly, great-hearted Johnnie as when I first met him at Chattanooga, Tenn.



THERE were many tricks played on the officers, just for the fun of the thing, during the war, especially if the troops remained long at any one camping-place.

In one of the many camps of the Union soldiers, an odd trick was played off on the surgeon and chaplain of a regiment noted for its merry-making.

The troops were camped by a small stream, over which was a narrow, rickety bridge.

Just across from the camp was a log cabin, in which lived an old woman alone.

The woman paid no attention to the soldiers, but went about her daily duties as though unconscious of their presence.

One day some of the boys passed the cabin, and hurrying over the rickety bridge, came running into the camp with the message, “The old woman in the cabin is dying!” The chaplain and surgeon were notified.

“Chaplain, hurry over quick! The old woman is dying!”

[42]The chaplain hurried over the rickety bridge as rapidly as possible; the surgeon soon followed. As the chaplain came round to the open door he saw at a glance that it was a trick, and he passed on around the house, so as to allow the surgeon to come on and bear a full share of the joke.

The woman was dyeing. She was over a kettle of butternut juice dyeing a lot of yarn.

When the two came back over the bridge the whole camp was in a roar of laughter over the joke.

But what could be done? The men had reported a truth—the woman was dyeing; so there was no redress.



ONE morning during the war, coming down on the packet boat that plied between Cairo, Ill., and Columbus, Ky., I noticed a woman weeping as though her heart would break. Her calico dress and coarse blanket-shawl betokened abject poverty, and her face was hidden; and she sobbed out her anguish in a coarse bandanna handkerchief.

Laying my hand gently on her shoulder, I said,—

“My dear woman, what is the matter?”

“It’s my boy I’m crying about; he’s awful sick down in Tennessee, and he has writ for me to come down an’ nus him up, but the men as keeps the passes at Cairo says I can’t go.

“They say there’s plenty to take care uv my boy, and maybe there is; but I reckon that his muther what took care uv him when he was a baby could do it better nor any of them.

“My boy wus a very smart boy. You never seen a smarter boy nor a better boy than mine wuz. Well, if they won’t let me go down on the railroad I reckon I can walk. My boy’s sick an’[44] I’m bound to go. They tried to skeer me by tellin’ me the guards would arrest me if I tried to get through the lines. But I can dodge the guards, an’ creep under the lines. Anyway, I s’pose them guards ar’ human cre’turs, an’ if I tell ’em my boy is a solger, an’ awful sick, an’ wants his mother to come down an’ nus him, they’ll let me go through.”

“Have you his letter with you?”

“Yes, I have.”

And out of the depth of a capacious pocket she drew forth a package, and carefully unrolling it, she handed me a letter. It was short, but full of tender pathos. The boy was sick and homesick, and wanted his mother. Among other things, he said:—

“You could nus me better than the boys. I hain’t got no apertite and can’t eat nothin’; the boys hain’t much on cookin’, but you could cook something that I could eat, and maybe I’d get well.”

Satisfied that she was a true woman, and not a spy, I said:—

“General Grant, the highest officer in the army, is on this boat. He can give you a pass; he was sitting here by this table a few minutes ago; as he has left his paper and writing material there, he will no doubt return in a few minutes. Go to him and show him your boy’s letter, and ask him for a pass. He will give it to you.”

[45]She was almost dismayed at the thought of speaking to such a great man. When the General came in and took a seat at the table, I whispered to her,—

“Now go,—don’t be afraid.”

The meeting of the two was a picture for an artist.

With sun-bonnet pushed back, and her coarse shawl drawn closely about her, she timidly approached him, holding out the letter.

General Grant looked up kindly.

“Are you Gineral Grant?” she questioned.


“Well, my boy’s awful sick down in Tennessee, an’ he’s writ me this letter to cum an’ nus him up; but them men at Cairo what gives passes said I might be a spy, and they wouldn’t give me a pass.

“But, Gineral, I hain’t no spy; I’m a good Union woman as ever lived; and there’s a lady here as allowed that if I’d ask you maybe you’d give me a pass.”

In the meantime, General Grant had looked over the letter and scrutinized the woman, and handing the letter back to her, he said, “Yes, I’ll give you a pass; what is your name?”

The woman gave her name; but she was so delighted that she talked all the while he was writing the pass:—

“It’s awful unhandy for me to leave home now,[46] cos I hain’t nobody to take care of nothing. Bill Spence’s wife, she agreed to milk the cow, but I had a beautiful pig, and I had to turn that out to root for itself, and I’m awful feared that it will get lost while I’m gone. But I told Mis’ Spence that I’d ruther risk the pig than to risk my boy, for he’s an awful good boy, Gineral.”

“This pass will take you down and bring you back,” said General Grant, handing her the precious document.

“How much do you s’pose it’ll cost me to go down?”

“It will cost you nothing, madam; the pass will take you free.”

“Don’t they charge nuthen on them roads?”

“They will not charge you. A mother who has given her son to the government, the government can afford to carry free.”

Just then I got her attention and beckoned her away.

“I’m very much obliged to you, Gineral,” she said, and made an old-fashioned courtesy.

Years afterward, while he was an occupant of the White House, and I was there on a friendly visit, I reminded him of the circumstance, which he had almost forgotten, and expressed the hope that the boy had recovered, and that she had found her pig on her return. He smiled, and said,—

“I always let the mothers pass if their boys[47] were sick, and they seemed to be good loyal women.”

I had noticed that General Grant did not judge by appearance or dress. Often the lady in her silks was turned back, while a woman arrayed in calico would go through the lines.



HELENA, Arkansas, was an important military station in 1862-63. In December, 1862, General Sherman, with his great fleet of boats and an army of twenty or thirty thousand men, moved from that point down the Mississippi River upon Vicksburg. There was nothing in the place of itself that made it a desirable camping-ground for troops, other than that it was an advance station far down into the enemy’s country, and commanded considerable important territory. The soldiers called it a “God-forsaken place.”

It was named after the daughter of the founder of the town, Helena; but the soldiers suggested that the name ought to be spelled with one syllable and two l’s.

Along the river front the land was very low and subject to overflows, but was protected by a high embankment, which effectually shut out the flood tides of the Mississippi River. Just back of the town was a great green cypress swamp, that was crossed by a corduroy road—a road[49] made of large round logs fastened together at each end. Back of the swamp rose high bluffs of yellow clay. They were unsightly and very precipitous; in most places perpendicular. Their uneven sides were seamed and wrinkled by the floods and storms of ages, and looked like a line of forts.

It is easy to imagine the discomfort of such a camping place. During the winter and spring the streets of the town were miry and almost impassable.

In December, 1862, I reached Helena with a heavy lot of hospital supplies. I sent a message to my friend, General Cyrus Bussey, who was Assistant-Secretary of the Interior during President Harrison’s administration, but who was then in command, requesting an ambulance, that I might visit the several hospitals. He sent me a note, saying that it would be impossible to get about in an ambulance, but that if I wished he would send me an army wagon. Of course I accepted the offer. A big wagon, with four good strong mules attached, was sent me. A camp-chair was put in for my use; and Chaplain P. P. Ingalls offered to accompany me, and took a seat with the driver on a board which had been placed across the wagon bed. We started down the principal street of the town, towards the steamboat-landing; but we had not gone far till the team began to mire. The mules made a desperate struggle to get out, and[50] the driver tried to turn them towards the sidewalk; but the more they struggled the deeper they sank into the black mire of the street. The mules were in up to their sides, and the wagon had sunk down almost to the bed.

Immediately a crowd of soldiers gathered on the board sidewalk. They had been through many a miry place, and knew just what to do. Boards from the near fence and rails were brought, and soon the space was bridged between the struggling mules and the board sidewalk. The mules were soon detached from the wagon, poles and rails were used to pry them out, and ropes were put about them, and they were pulled by main force to the sidewalk.

As the boards on which the men stood sank down in the mud, other boards were brought and laid on top of them, and many willing hands made the work of rescue possible. The last mule to be rescued was up to his sides in the mire.

It seemed almost impossible to get a rail down under him, or to get ropes about him, so as to help him; but at last, covered with black mud and almost exhausted, he stood on the board sidewalk. Chaplain Ingalls and myself were then rescued, the wagon was abandoned, and a board put up, “No Bottom,” to warn others.



How the Men in the Hospital Tents were saved from Freezing.

ON the night of Dec. 31, 1863, a fearful storm swept over the Southern States, extending from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Coast. I was at Chattanooga at the time. The tempest came down upon us like an Arctic hurricane. It beat and tore around the cliffs of Lookout Mountain and down its gorges, levelling trees, and freezing the life-currents in every unprotected living thing. Many of the guards on duty in the army that night froze to death. General Russell A. Alger, who was in front of the enemy in the Eastern Army that night, tells of his ride along the picket-line. As the position of his forces was a dangerous one, he desired to assure himself that the guards were at their posts of duty.

At one point, where the lines of the two armies came close together, and the danger was especially great, a trusty soldier had been posted. As General[52] Alger approached that point, he was surprised at not being halted, and he felt sure that the guard was asleep.

“Why do you not challenge me, sir?” he demanded. There was no response. Taking the man by the shoulder, General Alger was shocked to find him dead. Standing against a tree, facing the enemy, that terrible night, with eyes and ears on the strain, intent on doing his duty well, he had frozen to death.

At Chattanooga there was great suffering from scarcity of food, and clothing, and lack of proper protection. The railroad had been repaired to Bridgeport only; and it was necessary to haul all the supplies of that great army from Bridgeport to Chattanooga, a distance of twenty-eight miles, and over a rough, stony mountain road. The army had marched over this road to Mission Ridge and Chickamauga, and their shoes had been cut to pieces on the sharp rocks. Many of the men were almost barefooted. They were two hundred and thirty-six miles inland from their base of supplies. Every bridge had been destroyed, and every foot of the long line of railroad had to be guarded.

Those of us who ventured to travel over that dangerous route had to take the chances, both of obstructions on the track, and volleys of musketry from ambuscades. When the storm fell upon the army at Chattanooga the troops lacked both food and clothing.

[53]At the foot of Lookout Mountain, there was a large “field hospital,” at which were quartered the men who were most severely wounded and sick. The men were sheltered by large tents, and lay on cots. There were no floors in these tents, and no arrangements for heating them.

Mrs. Jeremiah Porter of Chicago, a dear little saint, who is now in heaven, had gone to Chattanooga with me; and we were together at the rooms of the Christian Commission when the storm burst upon the place in its terrible fury. Amid the raging of the tempest, which made every timber in the old frame building creak, and threatened to tear away the roof that covered us, our first thought was of the men in the field hospital, who were exposed to its fury. Night, as it was, it was decided that we should go to their relief. While the delegates were getting out the horses and ambulances, everything that would be likely to add to the comfort of the patients was collected from the stores on hand. It was about daybreak when we started.

The way was lined with dead mules and horses frozen to death. Half-starved and unsheltered they could not live in such a storm. The muddy roads were now frozen. The wind was in our faces, and the two miles we had to travel seemed a long journey.

When we reached the hospital our worst fears were realized. Many of the tents had been[54] blown down upon the faces of the helpless men. Against the fierce northern blasts, which threatened to tear the tents into tatters, the attendants were striving to right them. But the force was small compared to the work which needed to be done. To leeward of the camp, three great log fires were blazing and crackling furiously.

Mother Bickerdyke, a grand old army nurse, who did heroic service in the hospitals from the beginning until the close of the war, was there, and giving directions with the clearness and force of a sea-captain in a storm. Orders were imposed on all of us before we were out of the ambulance. “Come on, Lawrence, with your men, and help get up these tents. Mrs. Wittenmyer, you and Mrs. Porter get sticks and pry out rocks, and heat them here in these fires and put them about the men to keep them from freezing.”

We all went to work at once. No one stood upon the order of his going. With such sticks as we could pick up it was hard to pry out the rocks, but we were willing and we succeeded. One delegate had brought a lot of reading-matter with him; and we utilized them as wrappers for the hot rocks, which we carried in our arms to the cots, creeping under the flapping canvas when the tents were down, and putting them around the men the best we could, and speaking at the time words of cheer which they so much needed. I thank God that because of the heroic and timely efforts[55] which were made, not one man froze to death in the tents that day. The great log fires, we learned later, had been built from a part of a fort surrendered by the Confederates. Mother Bickerdyke, not finding suitable wood for fires which could withstand a tempest, suggested to the surgeon, that such timbers as they could get out of the two forts be used for that purpose. But as the forts were government property, the surgeon refused to touch them without an order.

Military headquarters were two miles away, and the tempest was raging. Mother Bickerdyke rose to the emergency as usual. “Come on, boys,” said she; “we’ll soon have the timbers out of the old fort. What possible use can Uncle Sam put them to?”

The surgeon warned her that it would be his duty to report the matter to the proper authorities. “That’s all right, doctor; but in the meantime we’ll have the fires going.” Of course nothing was ever done about it. We toiled all day. As the tents were raised we carried great pans and kettles full of live coals into the tents, and emptied them on the ground to temper the keen air, which seemed to pierce to the marrow. I had brought up the river, with great difficulty, a special store of supplies, transporting them in a small boat, through the special kindness of General John A. Logan, who had detailed the boat for that purpose. Among the supplies was the[56] largest lot of good woollen home-knit socks I had ever seen together. Many sacks of them had been pitched into the ambulance that morning; and as we went through the tents we examined the feet of the men to see if they were frozen. We put socks on the feet that were bare, and kept the hot bowlders moving back and forth to aid all. Many of the men had on good socks which had been sent to them by mail; but the feet of many were bare. I shall never forget the stone-bruised feet on which we put warm woollen socks that day.

At last the work was well-nigh done. The wind had abated, the tents were up, and our supplies were nearly all distributed. We had reached the last tent, and the last two men in the tent. I turned to the last sack to draw out two pairs of stockings for the two men before us, but there was only one pair in the sack. “O Mrs. Porter, what shall I do? There are two men, and only one pair of socks!” I exclaimed in despair.

To my surprise the men began to laugh; and one of them said, “There is no great loss without some small profit, Jim.” And they laughed again heartily. At last one of them explained. “You see, miss, we’ve each of us lost a leg, and one pair will do us both.” And this was true; they had been brought into the tent for the amputation, and laid side by side. We were both deeply impressed. I had not counted the feet or the[57] socks, but He who counts the hairs of our heads had counted both. Mrs. Porter and I divided the one pair between us, and each put a sock on the one foot. Tears of sympathy blinded our eyes as we remembered that henceforth these two heroes must walk lame through life.

It was wonderful with what heroism these men could bear their sufferings and losses. They were full of hope, and grateful for every little kindness. They literally overwhelmed me with thanks. But it was left for an Irishman to express his thanks for timely help in the most original manner. He said in the most impassioned tones, his face all aglow,—

“And sure it’s an angel ye are, and may ye be in heaven three weeks before the devil finds out ye’re dead.”



IN the spring of 1862 potatoes were very scarce and dear.

The women of Muscatine, Iowa, who were earnest workers in the Soldiers’ Aid Society of that town, were anxious to secure potatoes to send to the army. They decided to canvass the town and the region round about for that purpose.

But the first grocery they entered the proprietor said, “No, I have no potatoes to spare; but I have a field about a mile out of town that you may have the use of, if you wish to raise potatoes.”

The proposition was accepted gladly; and they at once began to solicit potatoes for planting.

At the appointed day for planting, the loyal old men who had not gone to the front, and the women and children, rallied for the work. Wagons were in readiness to carry out the ploughs, harrows, hoes, and potatoes. The men ploughed and harrowed and furrowed the ground, the women and children followed, dropping and covering the potatoes, and the field in due time was planted.

When the time came to cultivate the potatoes,[59] a “potato picnic” was announced; and when the day arrived, wagons were in readiness to take all who were willing to work to the field. A picnic dinner was served, and although the work was hard, these hours of toil were enlivened with laughter and song and wit and wisdom; and the weeds were destroyed, and the potatoes cultivated. And so it was each time when the cultivation of the field was needed.

Happily the Colorado beetle, known as the potato bug, had not been heard of as yet.

But there came a time of drought and great anxiety, for men, and women too, for women toiled in the fields in those heroic days. They watched the clouds with sinking hearts, as they sailed carelessly by, giving never a drop of rain to revive vegetation and moisten the parched earth.

Every one felt as much interest in the potato-field the women had planted as though it had been their own.

There are, perhaps, a score or more of men and women still living in that loyal town, who will remember that “Sanitary Potato-Patch;” and the remarkable fact, that one day a cloud sailed over it and drenched the field with rain, scattering only a few sprinkles over the fields adjoining.

The yield of that potato-field was immense; and the entire crop was in time shipped to me at St. Louis, and distributed in camps and hospitals.

[60]I do not now remember how many bushels they raised on that patch of ground, but I distinctly remember that they sent me by one shipment fifteen hundred bushels of potatoes.

Never were potatoes more needed, or more acceptable to men suffering from that army scourge, “scurvy,” than were those fifteen hundred bushels, distributed to Iowa soldiers and to all in the general hospitals. To me the supply seemed inexhaustible.

One of the first stops made by the steamer sent down with them was at Island No. 10, above Memphis, Tenn., where one hundred bushels were put off, with the injunction that they must be divided equally among the men and officers of an Iowa regiment stationed there.

There were over one thousand men in all.

On my return trip the steamer stopped again at Island No. 10. My feet had scarcely touched the shore till I was surrounded by soldiers, who reported that the officers had eaten up most of the potatoes, and that they had been given only about three messes.

I was indignant, and went directly to the colonel’s headquarters with the complaint. He was greatly surprised, and sent for the quartermaster and other officials, who listened to the complaints very serenely. When they had heard all I had to say the quartermaster said,—

“You only gave us one hundred bushels of[61] potatoes; how long did you think they would last?”

“About a month I thought.”

“We have ten companies of one hundred men each. Every company got ten bushels. That divided among one hundred men would only give them about two messes apiece.”

“That is so,” I confessed with some confusion.

“I see,” he continued, “that you are not accustomed to feeding armies.”

“If that is the way they eat, I don’t want the task of feeding them. I accept your explanation, and beg you to excuse my ignorance in these matters.”

And so we parted. I had a few minutes later, as the boys gathered about me at the landing, the privilege of explaining why they did not get more than two or three messes of potatoes,—that there were too many of them. That if there had been ten men and one hundred bushels of potatoes, instead of one thousand men and one hundred bushels of potatoes, they would have fared better.



THE many-colored signal lights of the fleet of steamers at Milliken’s Bend, and the bright camp-fires on the land, that glowed with such unwonted splendor in the gloaming, soon all faded out of sight as our boat steamed away toward St. Louis; and soon the black curtain of night shut us in with its thick heavy folds like a funeral pall, and our fight with disease and death began in earnest.

Never before in the history of wars, so full of untold agonies, did the timbers of a steamer bear up such a burden of pain, despair, and death, as did the City of Memphis as she steamed away from Sherman’s army. Wherever there was room for a sick or wounded soldier, on the cabin floor without mattress or pillow, in the staterooms, under the stateroom berths, out on the guards, on the top, or hurricane deck, on the lower deck, every space was filled with sore, weary, aching human bodies, mangled or fever-smitten. Of the seven hundred and fifty sick and wounded on board, about twenty-five were delirious; and their[63] pitiful cries mingled with the whirr of the wheels, and the splash of the waters, as the monster boat, with its heart of fire and its breath of steam, pulled heavily against the mighty tides of the Mississippi River, were heart-breaking. No one who was on that boat can ever forget that first night out. Nor can I be charged with over-drawing the picture. No pencil can paint it black enough.

Nothing has ever haunted my waking and sleeping dreams, not even the ghastly scenes of the battle-field, as the memory of the concentrated horrors of that journey. The groans and cries of the wounded and dying still ring through my soul; and from feelings of compassion I draw the curtain over the darkest scenes, that even at this distance make me shudder, and give to my readers only the more pleasant incidents of the journey, which was in truth a funeral march.

One man lying on the floor of the ladies’ cabin on his blanket, with his fever-racked head on his knapsack, gave me such an appealing look that I went to him.

“What can I do for you?” I inquired.

“You can write to my wife if you get through alive, and tell her I died on the City of Memphis.”

“While there is life there is hope. You are not dead yet, and may not die.”

“Oh, yes, I will! there is no chance for me.[64] Now take down her name,” and he gave me the name and address of his wife.

“Now I must do something to help you,” I said. “Could you drink a cup of tea?”

“No, nothing—it’s too late.”

“Could you drink a glass of lemonade?”

How his face brightened! “Where could you get it?” he asked eagerly.

“Make it. I have lemons and sugar, and there is a whole river full of water at hand.”

The poor man cried with joy; and others wept, too, as they drank the refreshing beverage, for, providentially, I had a heavy lot of lemons with me.

The patient began to mend at once, and by the time we reached Cairo was able to sit up.

Years afterwards I was on a Mississippi River steamer bound for St. Louis, when I noticed a lady and gentleman regarding me with some interest, and heard the gentleman say,—

“I am sure it is she.”

The lady came directly to me, with the question,—

“Did you come up the Mississippi River on the City of Memphis with the wounded after Sherman’s defeat?”

“Yes, I did.”

“It’s she! It’s she!” the lady exclaimed joyfully, much to the amusement of some of the passengers who had not heard the question.

[65]The gentleman joined us, and made himself known as the man who started the lemonade treat on that doleful night. “That saved my life,” he said reverently.

“I want you to know,” said his wife, with tears on her face, “that we have never for a day forgotten you, though we did not know your name. We prayed for you as the unknown lady; and the children were taught to end their evening prayer with, ‘and God bless the unknown lady that saved papa’s life.’”

It was a very happy and pleasant meeting, although purely accidental.



CLINTON B. FISK was chosen colonel of a regiment made up largely of ministers and religious men. The morality of the regiment was a matter of favorable comment, not only in the camp where they were drilled before leaving the State, but also as they advanced down the Mississippi River. Some one suggested that Colonel Fisk should do the swearing of the regiment, as he was “as religious as a preacher.”

The colonel, who was not to be nonplussed by such a proposition, readily accepted the duty, the men all assenting.

“Soldiers,” he said, with great gravity, “if there is any necessary swearing to be done in this regiment, call on your colonel.”

Weeks passed, during which not an oath was heard in camp. The first hard camping-place was at Helena, Ark. The regiment pitched their tents on the bluff back of the town, on yellow clay, which after a rain became like putty. It was more than a mile to the steamboat-landing; and all the supplies had to be hauled through the[67] miry streets of the town and over the corduroy road,—a road made of logs firmly fastened together,—and then up a long, steep hill, where the mud-like yellow putty gathered upon the wheels and upon the feet of men and beasts.

Colonel Fisk sat in his tent one day attending to official business, when he heard one of his men, a teamster, swearing like a Hessian. He recognized his voice, and determined to reprove the man at the first opportunity. He had not long to wait. “John,” he called, “come here.” John responded with a military salute, and stood before his colonel unflinchingly.

“John, did I not hear some one swearing dreadfully down the hill a little while ago?”

“Yes, Colonel, that was me.”

“You, John? I am surprised. Don’t you remember that I was to do the swearing for this regiment?”

“Yes, Colonel, I know; but, you see, I was coming up the hill with a big load, and the breeching broke. The swearing had to be done right away, and you weren’t there to do it.” And the teamster made the military salute and retired.

Many of the other privates were so full of wit that it was almost impossible for the officers to reprove them. General Fisk, years afterward, used to say laughingly, that it was little worth while to try to argue a question with John, his teamster, as he always got the best of the argument.



THE Confederates had been driven back from Chattanooga and Knoxville, and the lines of railroad travel had been re-established. I had occasion at that time to go to Knoxville. The journey was a dangerous one; but the mission was important, and I took the chances. I was delighted to learn, after reaching Knoxville, that Parson Brownlow, the hero of East Tennessee, was at home. It was afterward arranged that I should meet him at his own house.

He dwelt in an unpretentious, two-story frame structure, having a little portico in front. Firmly attached to the little portico was a tall flagstaff, from which floated a large Union flag. This flag had been put up at the beginning of the war, and had never been hauled down. Parson Brownlow was tall, lithe, and sinewy in form. His hair was black and abundant. He was a quiet talker while conversing on ordinary subjects; but when the war, the causes which led to it, the plotting and scheming by which the loyal sentiment of East Tennessee was silenced, was the theme, his eyes[69] flashed fire, his wit, sarcasm, and denunciation flowed in electric currents. His sentences were short, terse, and emphatic. One could better understand, looking into his face when he straightened himself up to his full height and poured out his torrent of accusations, why men whom he charged with treason and falsehood, and arraigned before God and men, should fall back in fear and shame.

He pointed out to me the little prison, with its iron-barred windows, in which he was for a time confined as a prisoner. The jail stood on the bank of the River Holstein, and he was put into a cell which overlooked the river and forest beyond. For a time his enemies had possession of the town, and he was placed where he could see nothing that was going on, and it was well. Many of his neighbors who had assumed to be loyal brought out Confederate flags, which they had kept concealed in flour-barrels, and flung them to the breeze. But there was one Union flag which did not come down, and that was the broad standard which floated over the little portico of Parson Brownlow’s house.

Mrs. Brownlow, a quiet, lovely little woman, added a word in explanation now and then; but when her boys were spoken of, she sighed heavily as though her heartstrings would snap asunder. And yet she had, in defence of the flag, shown uncommon courage. There were only two children[70] at home; one a young lady, the other a girl of about ten or twelve years. We all stood out on the little portico, and Miss Brownlow described to me her heroic defence of the flag which was waving above us. She was a beautiful and stately woman; and as she stood there that day describing the scene, when with drawn pistol she challenged the men sent to take down that flag, she was the most perfect personification of the Goddess of Liberty I ever saw. As her eyes flashed fire, and her words rang out clear, full, and emphatic, we could well understand why the men retired.

The flag was watched and defended until a Union force came to their relief. The little force advanced carefully, until the head of the column reached the crest of the hill which environs the place. Looking out over the town, which was quietly sleeping in the gray of the morning, they saw among the Confederate flags the Stars and Stripes waving from one pole. It was like an inspiration. They made an impetuous charge, and captured the town. The flag over Parson Brownlow’s house never came down.

The influence of Parson Brownlow on Tennessee, and especially East Tennessee, still lives, and will live for ages. He was a man of great soul, of intense convictions, and of courage equal to his convictions. If he had been a coward, his blood would have watered the soil of Tennessee. But[71] his courage, his wonderful mastery of the English language, and the fearful majesty of his presence, cowed his enemies; and those who had planned to take his life were glad to send him away out of their presence.

My visit to Parson Brownlow, his burning words, and the story of the flag, can never be forgotten. He was by far the ablest man Tennessee has ever produced.



Saving the Life of a Brother.

I  WENT out to Sedalia, which was in the heart of the State of Missouri, with supplies.

It was a crisp winter morning in January when the train reached the place. I went directly to a large hospital near the railroad station. Visitors were not received at that hour; but a pass from Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, unbarred the door which opened from the vestibule into a large, long room filled with cots. On each cot lay a sick or wounded soldier.

Breakfast was being served by the attendants. Glancing down the room, I saw one of my own brothers, a lad of sixteen, who, fired with the war spirit, had gained consent to go. I had thought that he was a hundred miles or more away. There was a look of utter disgust on his face as he rejected the breakfast and waved the attendant away.

“If you can’t eat this you’ll have to do without; there is nothing else,” was the attendant’s discouraging response. On a dingy-looking[73] wooden tray was a tin cup full of black, strong coffee; beside it was a leaden-looking tin platter, on which was a piece of fried fat bacon, swimming in its own grease, and a slice of bread. Could anything be more disgusting and injurious to fever-stricken and wounded patients?

And nearly every soldier in that hospital was prostrated by fever or severe wounds; yet this was the daily diet, with little variation. Typhoid fever and acute dysentery was the verdict of a conference of physicians that consulted in regard to my brother.

There was little hope of his recovery. An old, experienced physician said, “If he can have good care and nursing his recovery is possible, but not probable.” And the sad news was telegraphed to the dear old home. The surgeon removed him into a little inner room, and my fight with death began in earnest.

Oh! those dreadful days and nights of watching; no joys of earth can ever obliterate their memory.

The restless tossing of the fever-stricken ones in the adjoining room, the groans of the wounded, the drip, drip, drip, of the leaking vessels hung above the worst wounded ones to drop water on the bandages and keep them cool and moist, put every nerve on the rack, and pulsated through heart and brain till it seemed as though I should go wild. It was an inside view of the hospitals[74] that made me hate war as I had never known how to hate it before.

The pitiful cry of helpless ones calling, “Nurse, nurse! water, water!” and the weary, sleepy nurses making no response—sitting, perhaps, fast asleep, yet willing to do their duty when I aroused them, still rings in my ears.

The surgeon in charge and all the attendants were kind and respectful, coming into our room on tiptoe lest their rude steps and ways might jostle a soul, hanging by a thread, out of life. Each day a telegram was sent to those who watched and prayed far away: “No better—sinking.”

But a new anxiety disturbed me. The acting medical director, who visited the hospital each day, coming in reeling drunk on the second day, ordered that I should only be admitted for an hour each day, in the afternoon.

No one in the hospital was ready to enforce such a brutal order.

Immediately the chief officers at Sedalia and St. Louis were advised of the state of affairs.

The next day, when the acting medical director came into the hospital, he was too drunk to talk plainly, or to walk without staggering, and yet his word was law. He was not too drunk to notice my presence when he staggered into that little room, however. He said,—

“Madam, it’s against my rules to have any[75] ladies in my hospitals, and you must leave here.”

“The devotion of a sister is stronger than all hospital rules,” I answered calmly.

“You can’t stay in this hospital. I’m boss here.” I made no answer. One or the other of us must certainly leave that hospital. Letters and telegrams poured in upon the chief officers at St. Louis, from all the leading officers and surgeons in the army at Sedalia, and he was relieved from duty before the rising of another sun. And as he was only acting medical director, not yet having been mustered in, he was dismissed from the service, and I never saw his face again.

There was general rejoicing throughout the hospital, the camp, and the town, for the man had been a disgrace to the army. After this, there were only disease and death to fight. The powers of human endurance are wonderful. For seven days and nights I never closed my eyes to sleep, only as I leaned my head down on the side of the cot on which the one lay who was hovering between life and death.

My eldest brother, Dr. William H. Turner, who was a surgeon in the Union army, came up on a leave; but as the forces were ordered on the expedition against Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, he received a telegram to join his command the very next day. He had little hope of ever seeing[76] his brother’s face again; but good nursing brought him, and many others in that hospital, through to health again. He not only recovered, but he returned to the army; and when his term for three years had expired, he re-enlisted and served till the close of the war.

He is still living. He has a ranch and a placer gold mine, with first water rights, near Helena, Mon., where he lives with his family.

In the corner near our little room lay a fair-faced boy of sixteen. The surgeons had given him up to die. When we looked into each other’s faces I asked the question, “Can I do anything for you?” The tears came welling up into his great brown eyes; and after a moment’s struggle, he burst into tears, sobbing like a child. I laid my face down on the pillow and cried too. No one laughed and called him babyish. Poor boy! sick and homesick, and needing so much care and love, and yet getting so little; lingering on the borderland, with no hand to help, and no voice to cheer him. No wonder he cried aloud; great stalwart men, stricken down in the midst of the fight, wounded, sick, and sore, understood it; and tears were on many a bronzed face as, taking his thin hands in my own, I cried with him.

As soon as he could command himself he said, “If only I could go home, mother could nurse me up in a little while.”

“You shall go home. I’ll get you a furlough[77] as soon as you get well enough,” I answered hopefully.

From that hour there was a marked improvement in that patient’s symptoms, and many other overcharged hearts were relieved by this outburst of feeling. In less than two weeks this boy, closely wrapped in blankets, was helped to the train, for he was going home on a furlough. Friends were to meet him at St. Louis, and accompany him to his home and his mother in Denmark, Iowa.

And she did nurse him up; and he returned well and strong, to beat the drum for the rallying of the serried ranks of men, who, with set faces and glittering steel, marched to battle.

Never was a mother more grateful than that Iowa mother was for the little kindnesses shown to her suffering boy. I afterwards met him in the ranks; for he came down to the Sanitary boat to meet me. He was well and strong, and very grateful for the little help I had rendered him.



THE surgeon in one of the Nashville hospitals said, pointing to one of his patients, “There is a young man slowly starving to death. His fever is broken, and he might get well, but we cannot get him to eat anything. If you can tempt him to eat he may recover.”

I went over and stood beside his cot. “I am glad to see you looking so much better,” I said enthusiastically. He shook his head. “Oh, yes you are; and now what can I bring you to eat? I’ll bring you something real nice; what shall it be?”

“Nothing.” And he turned his face away in disgust.

“I’ll tell you what you can eat;” for I suddenly remembered that I had seen a lot of birds hanging in a meat-shop as I came down to that hospital; “you can eat a nice broiled bird.”

He looked up in surprise with a ghost of a smile on his face. “Maybe I could.”

“Why, of course you could; and I will go right away and get one for you.”

[79]“It will be too much trouble.”

“No, it will not be a bit of trouble. You lie still and think what good eating a bird is till it comes.”

I hurried away lest he should change his mind, bought some birds, and took them to the Christian Commission Home, where there was an excellent cook.

“Aunt Debby,” I said, as I marched into the kitchen with the birds, “I want you to broil two of these birds the very best you can. A soldier’s life depends upon them.”

“Laws, missus! You ’most scare me to death talking dat way. I’ze weak as a rag, and ken do nuthen.”

“But you’ll do it right, and then the soldier will get well. I’ll help you.”

In a very short time two birds nicely broiled, and dressed with a little fresh butter and a pinch of salt and pepper, lay in the bottom of a hot covered dish. A card with the name of the hospital, the name of the soldier, and the number of his cot, was attached to the basket; and a half-grown colored boy in service at the house was intrusted with it, and bore it away in haste.

“Take notice, Ben, what he does and says, so you can tell us when you come back,” was my last injunction.

In due time Ben came back, laughing. “Did he eat them?” I questioned eagerly.

[80]“O missus, you o’ter ’a’ seen ’im. I sot don the basket and tooked off de cover and held the birds up close tu ’im; an’ my, but it did smell good! He jus’ gim it one look, den he grab one an’ begun to eat. But I wus a-holden de dish dar, an’ he seed t’other bird, and he grabbed dat, an’ he dove his han’ dow under ’is piller an’ brung out an ole newspaper, and he wrapped up t’other bird and chucked it down under his piller, and den he went on eaten as fast as he could. Oh, golly, but wusent he hungry!” And Ben doubled himself up and laughed as only a colored boy can laugh.

The next day I was called away to Chattanooga, and so I left all my work in other hands. While in Chattanooga, General Hood marched northward and broke the lines of communication between Nashville and Chattanooga, and I was detained there several weeks. The very day after my return I was on the streets of Nashville, and a soldier met me with great cordiality.

“I don’t believe you know me,” he said.

“No, I don’t remember to have ever met you before,” I replied.

“I’m the man you sent the birds to.”

“I am glad to see you. How is it that you are up and out so soon?”

“Well, you see, there wasn’t anything the matter with me, but I did not know it. I thought I was going to die, but the birds did the business. I never did taste anything quite so nice as they[81] were, and I have been eating ever since, anything I could lay my hands on. And now I am well, and am going to join my regiment.”

After a few cordial thanks and good wishes we separated, and I have never seen him since. If these lines fall under his notice, I would like to hear from him.



THE battle of Corinth had raged from early morning till late in the afternoon, and then General Price was checked and forced to retreat. The struggle had been a bloody one, and the ground was covered with the wounded and the dead.

The Confederates made a desperate struggle to capture Fort Robbinette. General Rogers, or “Texas Rogers” as he was usually called, led the charge against the fort. Splendidly mounted, with a flag in one hand and a pistol in the other, he rode up to the very mouth of the cannon, all the while beckoning his men onward. Reaching the ramparts, he planted the Confederate flag there, and the next moment fell dead. But his troops surged up after him, although the cannon of the fort mowed down great swaths of marching men, as with set faces and bowed heads they followed their leader.

The scenes that followed were indescribable. The human avalanche surged up into the fort,[83] and men, hand to hand, contended for the mastery.

The Confederate flag waved only for a moment. Then it was torn away, and the men who had climbed up over the ramparts were hurled back. But still fresh relays came on. When there was not time to reload their guns, the invaders used them as clubs, and the fragments of many a shattered musket were left upon the field. Texas Rogers’s horse, which had gone back riderless, came dashing up again when the next charge was made, as though guided by human hands, and once more turned and went back. After the bloody conflict ended, it was found that forty-two men lay dead in a heap where “Texas Rogers” planted his flag and died.

Hungry and utterly exhausted as were the men, who, without food or rest, had fought all day, their first duty was to their wounded comrades. Every available building, and every church but one, was taken for hospital purposes; and long rows of tents were put up on the grounds of the Ladies’ College. But there was a lack of supplies. There were no cots or pillows—only the bare ground.

Among the heroic workers there, was Mother Bickerdyke, who could always find supplies if they were within reach. She took some wagons and a squad of men, and went down to the quartermaster’s storehouse. “Come on, boys,” she said;[84] “we will see if we can find anything to make the wounded comfortable.”

The quartermaster was there to receive her, and to say, “We have no hospital supplies; they are all given out.”

“Then, I’ll have to take what I can get. Boys, roll out some of those bales of hay and cotton! They will make better beds than the ground.”

“You must bring me an order, madam.”

“I have no time to hunt up officers to get orders.”

“But I am responsible for these supplies, and cannot let them go without proper orders.”

The wagons were soon loaded up, and the bales of hay and cotton were soon at the hospital tents. An axe cut the hoops, and the hay went flying into the tents in long even rows with the help of ready hands. An armful of cotton made a good pillow. All night long the work went on. Some with lanterns were searching among the dead for the wounded and bringing them in; others dressing the wounds. No one was idle. The utmost of strength and energy must be put forth at such a time.

But the quartermaster must make his accounts all right, and of course had to enter complaint against Mother Bickerdyke. She was summoned to meet the charge, which she did when she found time to go.

“Mrs. Bickerdyke, you are charged with taking[85] quartermaster’s stores without proper orders and over his protest.”

“Who ordered the tents put up on the college grounds?”

“I did.”

“What were they put up for?”

“To shelter the wounded men, of course.”

“Did you expect these wounded men to lie on the ground?”

“You should have obtained orders.”

“I had no time to go for orders. Why didn’t you order in the hay and the cotton?”

“I did not think of it.”

“Well, I did, and used all I needed; and now all you have to do is to draw an order for them and give it to the quartermaster.”

She bade the officers good-day and returned to her work, and no one thought of arresting her. Indeed, she had the best of the argument.

Mrs. Mary A. Bickerdyke, or “Mother Bickerdyke” as the boys used to call her, was one of the most energetic and faithful workers of the war. Her fidelity to duty, and her untiring efforts for the comfort of the sick and wounded, have endeared her to her co-laborers and to the old soldiers whom she blessed. She now, 1894, lives in quiet and comfort with her son, Professor Bickerdyke, Russell, Kan.



IN the spring of 1861, Dr. Charles Elliott edited The Central Christian Advocate, in the third story of a business block in St. Louis, Mo.

The Southern Christian Advocate, which represented the views of the South, was at the time published in the second story of the same building.

The two editors, who had always been personally friendly to each other, were wide apart on the great question of disunion, which was stirring the hearts of the people.

Dr. Elliott was a genial Irishman of great ability and courage. He was one of the most learned men in the country. It is a remarkable fact that he had never been in a college until he was chosen president of one of the finest Western institutions of learning, yet he was master of all the highest university studies taught. Sanscrit, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish, and many other languages, were as familiar to him as the English, and he was profoundly versed in the natural sciences and mathematics.[87] He was a thorough scholar, and made a good college president. But the church needed a strong, loyal man, with the courage to stand for the truth, at this outpost; and Dr. Elliott was chosen.

Both editors were able and fearless men, and they fought many a hard battle with their pens before the bombardment of Fort Sumter. After the fall of Sumter, the excitement in St. Louis ran high. The city was about evenly divided in sentiment, and no one dared to predict what a day or an hour would bring forth. The Stars and Stripes, symbolizing the Union cause, and the State flag, representing the disunion cause, floated here and there side by side on adjoining buildings. The two editors grew more intense in feeling as the conflict deepened. Dr. Elliott’s strong, masterly arraignment of the South for the crime of slavery, and his cutting sarcasm over secession, were almost unbearable to the managers of the other paper, and the latter tried to pay him back with interest; but at first neither one actually unfurled on the building the banner which represented his principles.

One day news reached St. Louis that General Price had won a victory, and the editor of The Southern Christian Advocate threw out the State flag. A few moments afterward a friend came rushing into Dr. Elliott’s sanctum: “Doctor, they have thrown out the rebel flag down-stairs.”[88] Dr. Elliott sprang from his editorial chair, and rushed to the front window. There, sure enough, was the flag of disunion, waving in the breeze. Dr. Elliott had prepared for just such an emergency. All the ropes and guys were ready. He ran to a closet, brought forth an immense Union flag, and threw it out. The next moment it was in its place, and was waving back and forth before the windows of the office below, and slapping the other flag furiously. Dr. Elliott laid out a brace of pistols on his editorial table, and took his seat to await developments. He did not have long to wait. The tramp of feet was heard on the stairs, and the editor of The Southern Christian Advocate rushed in with some of his friends.

“Take down that flag!” he thundered.

“I shall not take down that flag; and if any man touches it I will shoot him on the spot as an enemy of my country,” was Dr. Elliott’s prompt reply, as he stood, pistol in hand, ready to execute his threat.

After some parley the invading force retired.

Shortly afterward a large Union force was thrown into St. Louis, martial law was declared, and all the rebel flags were hauled down. The beautiful flag which Dr. Elliott had displayed in front of his office continued to wave in triumph until the war was over.



A Colored Man the First to Fall.

FORT SUMTER was fired on April 12, 1861. The next day the Pottsville Light Infantry, of Pottsville, Pa., tendered their services by telegram for the defence of the government.

Their services were accepted by Simon Cameron by telegraph; and they, with recruits gathered on the journey, were the first troops to reach the capital. There being some question as to the date of their reaching Washington, Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, being appealed to, published the following letter:—

Philadelphia, July 4, 1866.

I hereby certify that the Pottsville Light Infantry was the first company of volunteers whose services were offered for the defence of the capital at the beginning of the War of the Rebellion. A telegram reached the War Department on April 13, 1861, making the tender. It was immediately accepted; and the company reached Washington on the 18th, with four additional companies from Pennsylvania, and these were the first troops to reach the seat of government.

(Signed) Simon Cameron.

[90]On July 22, 1861, the United States Congress passed the following resolution:—

Resolved, That the thanks of the House are due and are hereby tendered to the five hundred and thirty soldiers from Pennsylvania who passed through the mob at Baltimore, and reached Washington on the 18th day of April last, for the defence of the national capital.

Although the day was cold and raw, the people of the loyal town of Pottsville gathered on the streets and cheered them on their way; and all along the line till they reached Baltimore, they were hailed with loyal enthusiasm.

They reached Baltimore April 18; and while passing through that city a furious mob assailed them, and they fought their way through.

Nicholas Biddle, the only colored man in the company, an old man sixty years old, was the first Union volunteer to shed his blood for the life of the nation in our recent Civil War.

It is a significant fact that the first man killed in the Revolutionary War was a colored man,—Crispus Attucks.

Nicholas Biddle was not killed, but was struck on the head with a stone dropped from a building, and fell senseless and covered with blood. His comrades, although fighting a furious mob, did not desert him, but gathered him up and put him on the cars.

Weary and wounded and bruised and battered by the mob at Baltimore, they got through alive,[91] and were on the 18th of April quartered in the rotunda of the Capitol.

Nicholas Biddle, although sixty years old, enlisted and served throughout the war, and returned to Pottsville with those who survived the terrible struggle.

He lived till he was eighty years old; and his friends at Pottsville have erected a monument in his honor, which bears the following inscription—

Died 2d Aug., 1876, aged 80 years.
His was the proud distinction of shedding the First Blood in
The Late War for The Union. Being wounded while
marching through Baltimore with the First
Volunteers from Schuylkill County,
18th April, 1861.


The very next day, April 19, the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment fought its way through the same cruel, howling mob.



THE ship canal, and all other plans for getting below Vicksburg with enough boats to transport his troops across the Mississippi River, having failed, General Grant determined to run the blockade. Seven gunboats and three wooden steamers were put in condition to make the perilous trip.

The iron sides of the gunboats were drenched with coal-oil, and the floors were whitewashed, that the gunners might load their guns by the light of the whitewash.

The important working machinery of the wooden steamers was protected by bales of cotton and bales of hay. The smoke-stacks and pilot-houses were taken down; and the pilots must needs stand at their wheels, and the captains on the upper decks, with nothing to shield them from the sharpshooters on the wharves of Vicksburg.

All this preparation was done as secretly as possible.

But the service was a dangerous one, and no[93] one was to be ordered into such unusual and dangerous service. A call was made along the line on dress parade for volunteers. Two thousand brave men stepped to the front, anxious for the perilous service. As only a few were needed, lots had to be drawn to obtain the few from the two thousand; and one young man, who was chosen by lot, was offered one hundred dollars for his place, but he refused it. I am glad to record that he got through safely.

About nine o’clock on the night of April 16, 1863, a dark night, I received a note from Mrs. General Grant, who was with her husband at Milliken’s Bend, informing me that the boats would run the blockade that night, and asking me to come over and go with them to witness it. I accepted the invitation, and accompanied the orderly who had brought the note. It was dark and raining; but very soon we were, in company with General Grant, on our way to the steamer that was to bear us to the point chosen by our fearless leader to witness the running of the blockade.

When we reached the steamer, we found all the leading generals there except General Sherman, who had gone below to receive the fleet. McPherson, Logan, Belknap, Rawlins, Dodge, and all the others whose names have been made immortal in connection with the siege of Vicksburg, were there. The boat at once steamed down to[94] Young’s Point, from Milliken’s Bend; and about midnight all the lights were extinguished, the fires screened, and the boat dropped down without the splash of a wheel, near the first batteries of Vicksburg. With what intense interest we watched for the coming of the fleet, peering out into the darkness of that black night. At last we saw a gunboat, blacker than that starless night, creeping past us like some great monster of the deep. Then another and another, right down under the guns. They passed the first batteries without being noticed; then the storm broke upon them in all its fury.

Admiral Porter on his flag-ship, the Benton, led the way. The Carondelet, commanded by Captain Walke, and the Tuscumbia, followed.

The three wooden steamers were the Forest Queen, the Henry Clay, and the Silver Wave.

The first shot near us seemed to tear the sky to pieces above our heads. There was a flash of light all along the water-line of Vicksburg; great bonfires lighted up the river.

The captain of our boat in his excitement put on steam and started up the river. General Grant, who was with us on the guards, rushed to the hurricane deck, and compelled the captain to drop back to the old position.

Our long line of gunboats were now giving broadside after broadside, keeping well to the Vicksburg side, while the wooden steamers, with[95] their heavily ladened scows or barges, ran through as rapidly as possible, keeping well to the Louisiana side.

The great artillery duel was now on, every gun on both sides of the line was belching forth shot or shell.

Our boat swayed with the concussion of sound. It was as though a thousand electric storms had burst upon us in all their fury. And yet each shot and shell had a voice of its own, and could be heard in thunder tones with awful distinctness. And running through the bass and treble of solid shot and screaming shells, the click of the musketry of the sharpshooters on the wharfs of Vicksburg could be heard, as, by the light of the bonfires blazing high, they aimed the deadly bullets at the captains and pilots who stood up unarmed in full view. My friend, Captain McMillen of Pittsburg, Pa., who owned the Silver Wave, and who commanded her on that expedition, stood on her deck in full view, amid the terrible rain of fire and lead.[1]

There were, history informs us, on the average, one hundred and twenty heavy guns a minute. The scene was grand and awful. The bonfires were kept blazing. The Henry Clay burned to the water’s edge, the tongues of flame leaping above[96] the track of shot and shell. Shells were flying in every direction; with their burning fuses they made their circles, dropping down out of the sky like stars of the first magnitude, now and then some bursting in mid-heaven with a million scintillations of light.

All the officers had gone to the upper deck; and Mrs. Grant and I stood together, out on the guards, looking out on the grand and awful scene before us, shivering with agony.

We were neither of us alarmed for our own safety, but were overwhelmed with anxiety for the safety of our brave soldiers, and the success of the expedition.

Mrs. Grant was very sympathetic and kindly hearted, and stood there looking out upon the grand and terrible scenes of war through her tears. She was a most devoted wife and mother, and, like her noble, generous-hearted husband, was most heartily interested for the safety and welfare of the brave men who were fighting the battles of her country.

“Our men are all dead men.” “No one can live in such a rain of fire and lead,” we said to each other. “All our fleet, and the heroic men who manned the boats, are surely swallowed in that fiery channel,” we moaned with the tears on our faces. Only once, it was while the Henry Clay was burning, we saw for a moment or two the grand old Stars and Stripes.

[97]“See! see! there is our flag,” was the glad exclamation; but the next moment it was hid from our sight by the smoke of the guns.

We stood there, amid the thunders of this greatest artillery duel that was ever fought in the world, for two long hours, unconscious of danger or weariness. Then General Grant came down from the upper deck with the glad news, for he had been watching for the signals or rockets that the boats, one by one, sent up as they got safely through, that all the boats were through but the Henry Clay. The roar of the cannon had begun to die away, when our captain, at the command of General Grant, turned the prow of his boat up the Mississippi River, and steamed back to Milliken’s Bend. We reached there at daylight, after the most exciting night I had ever known, or perhaps will ever know again, on the earth.


[1] He made the journey safely, and continued to command his boat while she was in the United States service, which was till the close of the war. He was one of the few loyal steamboat captains on the Mississippi River. He lived to enjoy a long season of peace, dying in 1893.



IN 1862, just after the terrible battle at Corinth, Miss., I visited the hospitals in that place. The havoc had been fearful on both sides, and the wounded of the two armies crowded every ward.

Going into a hospital known as the College Building one day, and passing from cot to cot, I came to a young man who looked very pale and weak. I asked,—

“Are you sick or wounded?”

He answered, “I am severely wounded;” and seeing the look of sympathy on my face, he went on to tell me all about it.

It was a long, sad story that I need not repeat here.

He had fallen in the front of the battle-line, had been taken prisoner, and had lain out all the night long among the dead; but he said cheerfully, “When ‘our boys’ found me, they took me up tenderly and brought me here, and now I am doing well.”

But I felt that he was not doing well, that he[99] was on the verge of the grave, and that I must speak to him of the future. He went on to tell me of his home,—of a mother and sister and two little brothers in Benton County, Iowa, and added,—

“When I get well enough, I hope they will give me a furlough and let me go home.”

I said tenderly, “I hope you will get well; but how will it be if you should not? Are you ready to die?”

I never shall forget his answer; it has been ringing through my soul all these years. It was as though he was transfigured before me; there came into his face such light and joy, as, laying his hand on his heart, he said, “I have the Comforter!” What volumes in that sentence! I did not need to ask him to what denomination he belonged, or when or where he had found the pearl of great price. It was enough for me to know that he had the Blessed Comforter which Jesus promised to his disciples.

But he went on talking sweetly of Christ and heaven, and the power of Christ to keep. “Religion,” he said, “has kept me through all the temptations of camp-life, and now I am ready to live or to die. If the Master sees that it is best that I should go now, it will be as near heaven from Corinth as it would be from Iowa.”

It was evening time, and I went my way. The next morning I was early at that hospital, and[100] first of all went to look after him, but I found his place vacant.

I said to the ward-master, “Where is the young man who was lying here by this post?”

He answered, “He is dead.”

Oh, how his words went to my heart!

“Where have you laid him?” I asked.

He led the way out into the back yard, and there, side by side, stood the seven cot bedsteads that held the seven dead men that had been carried out the night before. He pointed out his cot, and left me alone with the dead. The bed-spreads were drawn up over their faces, and that was all that was between the dead faces and the sky.

I drew down the bedspread to look upon his face. I never can express the emotions of that moment. My heart was thrilled; for there upon the dead soldier’s face was the very same look of joy and peace that was on his face when he said, “I have the Comforter,” and I knew that the Comforter had been with him till the last. I wrote to his mother, telling her the sad story of his sufferings, and the sweet, sweet story of his Christian triumph.

After a while an answer came back to me. She did not know that he was wounded or dead until she received my letter.

His death was a heavy blow; but she rose in Christian triumph above her great sorrow, and in closing her letter said,—

[101]“My son may not come back to me, but I shall go to him, and it is just as near heaven from Iowa as it was from Corinth; and the same Comforter that comforted my son when wounded and dying among strangers comforts me now.”

What a glorious Christianity we have! A religion that can keep under the sorest trials, that can comfort in the deepest agonies, and that can give joy and peace in the presence of death, and leave its divine stamp upon the dead clay.



ALONG the lines of Vicksburg during the siege, there was no stronger point than Fort Hill. The land stood high, and the approach was almost perpendicular at some points. In the assignment of troops to positions, General John A. Logan’s division was placed in front of Fort Hill. General Logan was a man of energy, and a great fighter. With the consent of his superiors in command, he planned to mine Fort Hill. The work was begun at a distance in the rear, behind a bluff, so as to hide the operation from the Confederates. General Logan’s engineers, with scientific precision, directed the tunnel toward Fort Hill. There were weary days and nights of digging before they reached the foundation of the fort. But there came to the ears of the Confederates at last, even amid the thunder of the cannon and the screaming of shells, the sounds of the mining. Night after night they listened with their ears to the ground to the sound of the Union picks. The Confederates soon began to countermine, and it was not long before the[103] toilers in the Union tunnel heard the thud of the Confederate picks nearly over their heads. They were too high to strike the Union tunnel, but it was evident that no time must be lost in blowing up the fort. Tons of powder were carried in, and one bright afternoon about two o’clock the slow fuse was lighted and the tunnel was cleared. The regular firing of the battle was going on. There was nothing in the movements of the army to indicate that anything unusual was about to occur.

As I was driving around the lines that day, I met General McPherson and his staff, riding at full speed. Halting, he said,—

“You are going in the wrong direction. Fort Hill will be blown up in a few minutes. Better drive to General Logan’s headquarters.”

“Oh, no,” I answered; “I’ll be near enough to see the terrible tragedy. It will be heart-breaking.”

They galloped on; but I lingered along the roadway in sight of Fort Hill.

Suddenly a terrific explosion shook the foundations of the earth, and the heavy timbers of the fort and tons of earth were lifted skyward. The next moment the dust and smoke hid everything from view. General Logan and his men pushed into the breach, hoping to effect an entrance before the Confederates had recovered from the shock; but a glittering wall of bayonets met them,[104] and they were pushed back inch by inch. All that afternoon and evening hand-grenades were tossed back and forth as in a game of baseball; but an entrance could not be made.

A strange incident occurred at the blowing up of Fort Hill, which is perhaps without a parallel. There was at the time of the explosion a slave boy about eighteen years old working with others in the Confederate tunnel. This boy was lifted up with timbers and tons of earth, and thrown into the Union lines. He fell among the men of Williams’s Battery of Ohio. When the men ran to pick him up, he exclaimed with terror, “Is you Yanks goin’ to kill me?”

“Oh, no; we don’t kill colored folks,” was the prompt reply.

“Oh, golly, I went up free miles.”

“Could you see anything?” was asked.

“When I’se goin’ up,” he said, “’most eberything was comin’ down, and when I’se comin’ down ’most eberything was goin’ up.”

“Who commanded Fort Hill?” inquired one of the gunners.

“My massa,” replied the boy.

“Where is your massa now?”

“’Fore God, genl’men, I can’t tell you; he was goin’ up when I’se comin’ down.”

Pictures of the boy were preserved by Williams’s Battery, taken soon after the explosion, showing the boy in the patched tow garments[105] he wore in his wild flight for liberty. General Logan kept him at his headquarters for some time.

I saw him there many times. After the war he went to Washington with them I think, and remained some years.



ON the 10th of August, 1863, accompanied by my secretary, Miss Mary Shelton, now Mrs. Judge Houston of Burlington, Iowa, I started on my return trip to Vicksburg, with a heavy shipment of hospital supplies.

The Van Phul, the steamer on which we took passage at St. Louis, reached Helena, Ark., on the 16th of August.

When the boat landed at that post, we found, on inquiry, that there were over two thousand sick and wounded there, and so stopped over with a part of our supplies, the rest going on to Vicksburg, where I had a covered barge that had done duty on the Yazoo River during the siege, but which was then lying at the wharf of Vicksburg.

We found the hospitals at Helena, if they may be called hospitals, in a dreadful condition. The Methodist and Baptist churches were crowded with very sick and severely wounded men.

There were very few cots in these two churches; most of the men were lying in the narrow pews,[107] with the scant, uneven cushions for their beds. The weather was extremely hot, and flies swarmed over everybody and everything. The faces of some of the men, who were too helpless to keep up a continual fight with them, were black with swarms of hungry, buzzing flies. A few pieces of mosquito-bars were spread over the faces of some of the weakest patients; but, lying loose over their faces, they were of little advantage. Barrels in which had been shipped pickled pork now served as water-tanks, and were placed near the pulpit. They were filled every morning with the tepid water of the Mississippi River.

There was a barge of ice lying at the landing, brought down on purpose for the sick; but I could find no one who had authority to issue it, and so it was slowly melting away under the blaze of an August sun.

The men in charge were, however, willing to sell, and I had money to buy; and soon great crystal cakes of Northern ice were floating in every barrel of water in every hospital in Helena.

Acres of tents had been pitched by the roadside; and the mud, that in the winter had made the streets and roadways almost impassable, had now turned to dust, and every breeze sent it in clouds into the faces of the sick and wounded men.

There was another camp, called the Convalescent[108] Camp, on the sandy beach of the river, the water being very low at the time. We found no convalescence there. The sun beat down on the white tents and the glistening sand till the heat was like a furnace.

Just back of these hospital tents and churches, there was a wide cypress swamp, stagnant and green and deadly.

The men were discouraged. “We have been left here to die;” “No man could recover in such a place as this,” was the verdict of all who had the strength and courage to express their feelings. The air was heavy with the deadly malaria, that ladened every breeze with poison.

It was good service to provide them with light hospital garments to take the place of their heavy soiled clothing, and with delicate food to take the place of coarse army rations; but, as one man said, “It’s no use, ladies; we are all doomed men. It is only a question of time—your efforts will only prolong our suffering; we are all the same as dead men.”

For two long days, through sun and dust, we went from hospital to hospital, till we, too, became hopeless.

Every wrong that they had suffered, every peril that had threatened them, was burned into our hearts and brains, till they became our own.

There were no high officials that we could appeal[109] to. General Steele was pushing the Confederate forces toward Little Rock. There was no one having authority nearer than Memphis, Tenn.; and I determined to go to Memphis, and invoke the help of the authorities there.

I waited for an up-bound steamer all night. I could not sleep; my heart and brain and blood seemed to be on fire. Thousands of despairing, suffering men were all around me; it seemed as if sleep had forever left my eyes and slumber my eyelids. All night long I waited for an upward-bound steamer, and while I waited I wrote letters to the wives and mothers of the men who had asked me to write for them. About daylight a boat came up from Vicksburg, bound for St. Louis; and I boarded her for Memphis, leaving Miss Shelton at the house where we had taken board, to complete the task of letter-writing. When I reached Memphis, I drove directly to the office of the medical director. An orderly was the sole occupant of the office. He informed me that the medical director had gone out hunting, and would not be back till evening. I was greatly disappointed, as I had hoped much from him, but I was not discouraged. I decided to appeal to the commanding general.

The adjutant-general was the only person in the office.

“I wish to see the general,” I said, addressing the adjutant.

[110]“The general is sick to-day, and cannot see any one. Perhaps he can see you to-morrow.”

“My business is important and urgent; I cannot wait till to-morrow. Will you take a message to the general for me?”

“I cannot do that, madam; the general is very sick, and I cannot disturb him, but perhaps I can attend to the business.”

Thus encouraged, I began in a very energetic manner a statement of the condition of the sick and wounded at Helena. In the midst of it the door opened, and the general stood before me. I took in the situation in an instant, realizing that, sick or well, or whatever his condition, he was the man who had the authority, and I immediately turned to him with the case. I pleaded for those men as one would plead for his own life, and I concluded with a definite request: “I want you, General, to send down four steamers immediately, fitted out with cots and supplies, to bring all these suffering men away from that death-trap.” He said that it should be done. “But, General,” I continued, “I want the order issued before I leave this office. I want to go back and tell the men that the boats are coming—it may save some lives.”

“I assume, madam, that the order has been given,” said the adjutant, “and I will promulgate it immediately.”

“May I depend on you to send the boats down there by to-morrow noon?”

[111]“The boats will be there without fail.”

“Remember,” I said, “I have no other appeal but the newspapers and the great, generous people of the North who sustain them, if you fail.”

“I hope, dear madam, that you will make no mention of this in the papers—the boats will be there.” These last words were uttered as he closed the door of my carriage. I hurried away, as a steamer was coming in, and I desired, if possible, to get back to Helena that night.

I felt a little more certain of the boats coming because of my threat to appeal to the North through the newspapers, of which officials stood in some fear. There were, however, other reasons why I was justified in putting the case in that way of which it is not best to speak now. I reached Helena at half-past eleven o’clock that night, full of hope, and ready to rest and sleep.

The next morning early we were out in the hospitals, not for the purpose of distributing supplies, but as the messengers of glad tidings. And never did women go with gladder hearts to bear good news, since Mary left the tomb of her risen Lord, than we did that morning, as we went from hospital to hospital telling the men the boats were coming. We went to the two churches first; and in each I took a position in the pulpit, and called out at the top of my voice,—

“Attention, soldiers! Four hospital steamers[112] will be here to-day to take you to Northern hospitals.” The effect was magical. Men who were lying seemingly half-dead in their hopeless despair lifted their heads, and questioned anxiously,—

“What did you say?” and the glad message was repeated again and again, with the assurance that the boats would surely come.

“Then I’ll get well.” “Where are my shoes?” “Where is my hat?” and so we left them getting ready for the journey, and went from hospital to hospital with the glad message.

In one tent by the roadside, a beautiful brown-eyed boy about sixteen years old, after I had made the glad proclamation, questioned, “Is that so, lady?”

“Yes, it is so; we are looking for the boats every minute.” He slipped out of his cot; and, kneeling beside it, he lifted his eyes heavenward, and the tears running down his face, he repeated over and over,—

“Thank God, deliverance has come at last.”

In one ward a man looked at us very earnestly, and then questioned,—

“Is it the truth ye are telling us, now?”

“Yes, it is the truth.”

“Now, surely, ye wouldn’t be after decavin’ a poor sick man that’s most dead with the heat, and the flies, and the cypress swamp, would ye, now?”

[113]“No, sir, I would not.”

My anxiety was intense. What if the boats should not come? I stepped out of the tent and looked up the river, and there in full view the little fleet of four boats were coming around the bend of the river.

We both cried out in our joy, “The boats! the boats are coming!” but tears of thankfulness almost choked our voices. The excitement was intense. No one stood on the order of his going. The surgeons were willing all should go, and desired to go with them, and they did. Every man who could, rushed for the boats. Some who were not able to walk managed some way to get from their cots and crawl out toward the boats.

Oh! it was pitiful to see the helpless ones, the wounded ones, who could not move, waiting with anxiety for their turn to be carried to the boats, and pleading, “Please, ladies, don’t let me be left behind.”

“No, no! Don’t be alarmed, you shall go,” was repeated over and over. At last all were crowded into the four steamers, and the boats steamed away with their precious freight up the Mississippi River. We stood at the landing as the boats moved away. The poor fellows out on the guards tried to give three cheers, but the effort was a failure. We waved our handkerchiefs, and they waved their hats, or their hands, as long as the boats were in sight.

[114]What a load of anxiety and responsibility was lifted from our hearts!

Gathering up the supplies still left over, we took the first steamer bound for Vicksburg.

When we reached the conquered city we found thousands of sick and wounded still crowded into the hospitals there, and we remained for some time ministering to them as best we could.



VICKSBURG was situated on a high bluff. In the centre of the town stood the Court House.

On the Court House tower, there was a large white-faced clock, that turned its four white faces to the four points of the compass. Very early in the struggle, while yet the army was on the west side of the river, the artillerymen of the Union army attempted to destroy that clock, and by stopping the time confuse the enemy. There was quite a rivalry as to who should with shot or shell dash that clock to pieces.

But somehow they could not hit the clock. The rivalry continued; and when the army environed Vicksburg, there were eighteen miles of batteries pointing towards the town and often turned towards the clock. Shot and shell flew thick and fast, riddling the flag that waved above the clock, tearing away part of the stairway below, and chipping the casement that enclosed it. But steadily the hours and days went by, till weeks lengthened into months, and yet the[116] clock untouched and unhalting measured off time.

After the surrender I climbed the broken stairs, and saw the damage the shot and shell had done. The framework was chipped all around. But I found out why the shot and shell could not hit the clock.

Aunt Dinah, the cook, had said to me,—

“You o’ter see our preacher—he’s the powerfulest preacher in dis town, he is.”

I expressed a willingness to see him, of which I suppose he was duly informed by Aunt Dinah, as he called the next day.

He was a middle-aged man of strong muscular frame; and his face, which was black, was surmounted by a wealth of white hair. I found him very intelligent, and he gave me a great deal of information about the life in Vicksburg during the siege. At last I asked him how it happened that the colored people’s church, a large brick structure, was in ruins.

“Was it destroyed by shot and shell?” I inquired.

“No, missus; no shot nor shell ever cum near dat church; but you see we colored people ust to go dare to pray, an’ we prayed mighty powerful for de Yanks an’ for freedom. Den de white people da cumed, an’ den we had secret prayer. Somebody would say, ‘We’ll have secret prayer,’ den we knode jus’ what to pray fur. But de[117] white folks dey ’spicioned wat we wus praying fur, and dey tore dow’ de church.”

“And that stopped your praying?”

“Oh, no, missus; dat couldn’t stop our praying. We jus’ ’greed to pray when de town clock struck twelve night or day.”

“Why, our men tried to stop that clock; hundreds of guns were turned upon it during the siege, but somehow they did not happen to hit it.”

The old man’s face was radiant. The joy of his heart was shining through the black skin, as he swayed and clapped his hands. “Oh, honey, dar’s no happen about dat. De good Lor’ he jus’ put his han’ over it, and kep’ it goin’ an’ goin’ for us poor color folks to pray by.”

What perfect trust! It is easier to accept the theory of the old colored preacher than to explain why it was that the army, with a cordon of guns pointing toward that clock, did not reach the clock, or stop the regular swing of its pendulum, or the merry chimes of its bell.

Mrs. Margaret E. Sangster and myself met at the house of a mutual friend on the banks of the Hudson River one beautiful cloudless day, and I told her this story of the clock at Vicksburg, and she immediately wrote the following poem:—



Margaret E. Sangster.

Month by month the shot and shell
’Round the ’leaguered city fell.
Through its fiery tropic air
Throbbed the anguish of despair.
Stubbornly the fated gray
Struggled through each pallid day.
Stubbornly the loyal blue
Fought the weary conflict through.
High above the central square
Towered the old clock, white and fair.
Steadily its iron tongue
Over strife and silence rung.
Till the sullen foemen swore
“They shall keep that clock no more.”
All day long with bated breath
Life looked steadily at death.
Little ones forgot to play,
Christians ne’er forgot to pray.
Fair through all the siege it stood,
That old clock in sober mood,
As though now and then ’twould frown
On the sadness of the town.
Whistling balls around it flew,
Black against the sky’s deep blue.
All untouched, it told the time
With a regnant cheery chime,
Till the hour when victory
Broke the spell—the place set free.

In the city’s open square
Swarthy faces sobbed in prayer,
“Bless the Lord! the work is done;
Bless the Lord! our freedom’s won.
By that clock in yonder street,
True as steel our sad hearts beat.
In our homes or by the way,
When it struck, we paused to pray.
At its noon-hour day by day
Every bondsman stopped to pray.
Was it strange that old clock stood
Safe amid the storm of blood?
Why, of course it could not fall,
Guarded by the Lord of all,
Who through choiring songs of heaven
Hears the cry of earth’s forgiven.
And till now its honest face
Is a witness of His grace.



IN the winter of 1864-1865, the Union forces were concentrated in front of Petersburg and Richmond. There was more or less skirmishing and fighting all the while between the two great armies facing each other for the last desperate struggle.

The hospitals were overcrowded at City Point and Point of Rocks. Every cot was occupied, every tent was crowded, and the thousands of troops coming down quartered wherever they could find a vacant place.

I had not been in the cabin of a steamer bound for City Point very long till Miss Dorothy L. Dix came in. After the usual greetings, she informed me that she, too, was going to City Point.

Miss Dix was the stateliest woman I ever saw, and she was very dignified in manner and conversation.

Although at that time she was about sixty years old, she was tall, straight as an arrow, and unusually slender. Her hair, which was abundant,[121] was very dark brown, almost black, and was combed and coiled on the top of her head, except two locks in front, which were combed smoothly over each ear and carried in a loop up over the coil on top of her head. This peculiar manner of dressing her hair seemed to add to her height and dignity. Her dress was always exceedingly plain, but neat, and her linen collar and cuffs were always immaculate. She wore no jewels, not even a breastpin. She required the same degree of plainness on the part of her nurses.

It was not long after the boat left the dock at Washington till we had passed Alexandria and Mount Vernon, and were steaming on to Fortress Monroe at the mouth of the Potomac, with the ocean in full view.

There was always a long stop at this point, as it was not only a strong military station, well-fortified and strongly guarded by troops and gunboats, but it was a great hospital centre. Thousands of sick and wounded lay sorely stricken in these great barracks and tents by the sea.

It was about nine o’clock that evening when we reached City Point. We had discussed the question of lodging before we left the boat, and Miss Dix had said,—

“I have no concern. There are always plenty of cots, and I’ll find room in some of the nurses’ tents,” and she urged me to go with her.

But I was equally confident, and assured her[122] that the Christian Commission would take care of me. Mr. Cole, of Boston, the chief agent, was standing beside a tent, in deep thought, when I approached. When he saw me he lifted up his hand in dismay.

“I have no place for you; every foot of space is occupied,” was his greeting.

“How about the little tent where I stayed the last time?”

“It is full of delegates lying on the ground on their blankets. I’ve given up my little corner to Dr. ——, and have no place to sleep myself.”

“How about the storeroom?”

His face brightened.

“I never thought of that; but it’s full of barrels and boxes, and is not in order.”

“No matter; there will be shelter and room, and there is a lock on the door, and I’ll get on all right.”

A candle and some matches were procured, and, accompanied by the agent and his assistant, I went into the storeroom near by. It was a great, rough, strong plank barracks; boxes and barrels were piled up nearly to the roof. There was a vacant space where they handled the supplies, near the door.

“There is not a cot on the premises; they have all been taken for the sick and wounded. What will you do?”

“I’ll sleep on the floor, of course,” I answered cheerfully.

[123]But they turned some of the boxes around, and gathered up all the straw and shavings that were in sight, that had been used in packing, and put them together, and I placed my satchel for a pillow; and after I had assured them that it would be all right, they left, and I locked the door after them.

They had not been gone ten minutes till there was a knock at the door. I went very close to the door and called,—

“What is wanted?”

“Mrs. Wittenmyer, Miss Dix is here, and she has no place to stay. Can she come in?”

“Certainly; of course she can.”

And I opened the door, and that stately woman, with all her dignity upon her, which was really a part of herself, entered, glad to find even such a shelter as that. My candle lighted up the building sufficiently to show its unsightliness, and the dust and rubbish that were all about us. As Miss Dix was old enough to have been my mother, of course there was but one thing to do, and that was to give up my bed of shavings and straw to her, and with the stub of an old broom try to clear a place on another part of the floor for myself. She generously offered to divide her bed; but there was not enough to divide, so I spread my blanket-shawl down on the rough, uneven floor for my bed, and I took my satchel for a pillow.

I was weary and anxious, and for a few moments[124] I felt the service was too hard to be endured much longer. But there came another train of thought, as I heard the booming of the cannon at no great distance.

“How glad the brave men on the picket-line, where to sleep is death, the men in the trenches, and working the guns, would be to have a good dry floor to sleep on, and the right and privilege to sleep,” I said to myself. Somehow my bed grew soft and my pillow downy, and all the clouds of care and spirit of self-pity cleared away before the magic power of patriotism and sympathy for the brave men who stood so gallantly for my country and its flag; and I never in all my life had a better bed, or a sweeter night’s sleep.



THERE was little level ground on which to camp about the lines. Excavations had to be made to get a level place to sleep. So all the bluffs around Vicksburg were catacombed to afford sleeping apartments. No wonder there was sickness—no wonder Death held high carnival on both sides of the lines. It was not only dangerous, but almost impossible, to reach the little hospitals under the shadow of the guns. Very many times driven at full speed I reached them, but it was at great peril. How the memory of those hospital scenes comes back to me now!

At one point I went down under the guns of the fort at one of the most exposed places, with a carriage-load of supplies for the little fort hospital under the bluff, just behind the heavy guns. I found when I reached there that the position was so dangerous that it would be madness, so the officers said, to try to get out of there till I could go under the cover of darkness. But the afternoon was well-spent in making lemonade and[126] ministering to the men who had been stricken down with fever and hardships.

The ceaseless roar of artillery, and scream of shot and shell; the sharp whiz and whirr of small shot just over our heads; the June sun blazing down upon us with torrid heat, and no shelter for the sick but the white canvas tents, perched on the sides of the bluffs in places excavated for them, the bank cutting off the circulation of air,—were almost unbearable. How the poor fever-racked heads and fainting hearts ached amid the ceaseless din and the dust and heat of these little camp hospitals! One poor fellow, with parched lips and cheeks red with the fever that was burning through every vein, said, “I got a little sleep a while ago, and I dreamed that I was at the old spring; but just as I was taking a good cool drink I waked up.”

I partially met his cravings for a drink from the well at the old home by giving him generous draughts of lemonade, but when night came on I had to leave him. Poor boy, I never knew whether he got back to the old spring and home or not. There was no cool water there to allay his burning thirst. One of the hardships of that long summer campaign was the lack of good cool water. There were some springs, and a few wells were dug; but at points water had to be hauled long distances. Think of thousands of men to be supplied—of the thousands of horses and mules,[127] the great burden-bearers of the army, that must have their thirst quenched.

Most of the water for the use in camp was hauled up from the Mississippi River or the Yazoo, through the hot sun in barrels, and stood in camp all day.

During that dreadful day I sat down in one of the tents for a little while; there was a patch of weeds growing near the tent-door. I noticed the weeds shaking as though partridges were running through them. I called attention to the matter, which made the surgeon smile, as he explained, “Why, those are bullets!”

“Bullets? Do bullets come so near as that?”

“Oh, yes,” he answered cheerfully; “they are flying around here quite thick.”

“Do you consider yourself safe while in this tent? It seems to me the bullets are coming very close.”

“It is considered very safe. The bullets fall a little short you see.”

All the while I sat there I watched the bullets coming over and clipping through the weeds.

Three days from that time an officer was killed while sitting in the same chair on the same spot where I had sat and watched the bullets shaking the weeds.



THE smoke of the battle-field at Shiloh had cleared away; the dead had been buried; the wounded gathered up, and their ghastly wounds dressed—so that the people who came crowding to the battle-field saw little of the horror of war.

Among the multitudes who came down with supplies and words of sympathy and encouragement was Governor Harvey of Wisconsin, a grand, loyal man. He walked over the battle-field, the scene of the recent terrible conflict, and through the hospitals improvised for the accommodation of the thousands who had been wounded, and over the score and more of steamboats where many of the wounded were quartered.

He had given his promise of support to the men who stood between the North and the sword and torch of war. And now, with a hasty farewell to the crowd of distinguished patriots and officers who came down to wish him Godspeed on his return to the loyal State of Wisconsin, he stepped upon the single plank that bridged the little space[129] between the shore and the boat. There were a few steps forward—a misstep—a sudden plunge, and the flowing tide ingulfed him out of sight. There was a moment of awful suspense—he did not rise. Men plunged into the water, reaching out their hands in every direction to find the lost one, but alas! he was not found till life was extinct.

The boat on which he was going to take passage was lying just above our sanitary boat, and a number of us saw him make the misstep and fall.

That was a sad day to us all—a sad day for the Army of the Tennessee—a sad day for the State of Wisconsin—a sad day for the wife, a grand, noble woman, who, crushed by the heavy blow, waited in almost speechless agony for the bringing home of her dead.

But in those heroic days women did not sit down in speechless grief to weep over their dead, but, crushing back their tears, consecrated themselves to the cause of humanity and their country.

Mrs. Governor Harvey was no exception to this rule. Still staggering under this stunning blow, she consecrated herself to service in the Sanitary Commission and to the hospital work, and in blessed and unwearying service for others solaced her own deep grief. Who shall know how much comfort and encouragement the presence of this fair, beautiful, refined lady brought into the hospitals where so many homesick and pain-weary[130] boys lay on their beds, longing for the sight of a woman’s face, and tender touch of a woman’s hand?

Often amid the sickening scenes of the overcrowded hospitals, I met her on her weary round of holy service.

And at the close of the war she was active in the establishment of a home for the orphan children of soldiers in Wisconsin.



THE line of battle was so closely drawn around Vicksburg that every camp, and hospital, and wagon-train with provisions and ammunition, was under fire.

Every worker of the Christian and Sanitary Commissions, who ventured out to labor with the sick and the dying, knew that the Confederate sharpshooters at many points were within easy range, and that the flying shot and shell, that at times almost darkened the sky, were liable to drop in the pathway of the worker, and blot him or her out of existence.

None but the more courageous remained on the field. Curiosity-hunters, and bombastic dress-parade workers, fled from the scene as from a battle-field; for in truth every inch of ground about Vicksburg was a battle-field.

The perplexities of the service, and the dangers attending every effort made to relieve the suffering, were so great, and the laborers in consequence so few, that every helper was overwhelmed and overworked.

[132]One day, coming in from a weary round, a day’s work of unusual peril and hardship, we reached a point in the road sheltered from the enemy by a clump of trees.

Though at no great distance from the Confederate guns, it seemed more secure because we were out of sight of the frowning batteries.

Suddenly there was a crash in the timber, and we knew and heard no more. We were all so stunned that we did not know that a shell, crushing through the tops of the trees, had struck the ground in the middle of the roadway not forty feet behind our carriage.

If it had come a moment sooner, we would all have been scattered in fragments to the four winds.

As it was, the road was torn up so that it was impossible for teams to pass till it was repaired; the horses fell to the earth, the driver seemed dazed for a time, the carriage was covered with the dirt thrown out, for an ox might have been buried in the pit that that one shell dug out. Though it was the main thoroughfare, along which much of the ammunition and provisions were hauled, fortunately no teams were nearer than our own, and no one was killed or hurt.

If these lines should fall under the eyes of George, the driver, a soldier detailed for that service, he will excuse me for saying that he was about the worst frightened person I ever saw. That evening he said,—

[133]“I wish you would release me, and ask for some one else. I’d rather be with my regiment behind the fortifications than driving around this way all the time.”

“You’ll feel better about it in the morning, George—you will get over the shock. And then, too, remember that those who are behind the fortifications may be ordered at any time to make a charge, which would be more dangerous than the work you are now doing. But think about it; and if in the morning you would rather go back to your regiment, I will have the change made.”

The next morning George was all right, and he continued to drive for me until after Vicksburg was taken.



THERE was great rejoicing over the fall of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. The gunboats and transport vessels were pressing on to Nashville, which was occupied by the Union army soon after the fall of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. I went up on the first transport.

The women were mostly left behind in the scramble to get out of the city, and they were more intense in war spirit and partisan feeling than the men. In the heat of the excitement the chief hotel was thronged with both parties, where I took lodgings. The women sung ditties about Beauregard and Davis before the door of my bedroom till midnight, at intervals.

The great parlor of the hotel was a scene of the utmost confusion, judging from the tumult of angry voices.

The women blamed the men about them. “Every man who is able to bear arms ought to be ashamed to be seen outside of a war-camp in days like these,” was the sharp rejoinder of a[135] woman to her husband. I did not hear his answer, but suppose from her reply that he said he would only be throwing away his life.

“Throwing away your life, indeed! A man that is not true to our cause at such a time ought not to live.”

Some one was sitting at the piano, and banged the keys of the instrument in wildest fury to drown the sound of the contentions.

The next morning, in the dining-room, every Southern man and woman gave us all a wide berth, not deigning to sit at the same end of the dining-room.

After breakfast I went for a few minutes into the parlor. The lady whose voice I heard in falsetto the night before followed me, accompanied by her colored nurse-girl carrying her baby, perhaps six months old.

I had no purpose of controversy in my heart; and so when the lady said, “My baby is named after the best man in the world—Beauregard,” I only smiled.

“I suppose you Yankees think you can conquer us?”

“That is what the people of the North hope to do.”

“Well, you can’t. There is not men enough in the North to conquer us; for when you kill the men off, the women will take up arms.”

“Well, madam, there are thousands of men[136] gathering and drilling in the North, and they will soon be here; and it’s their firm purpose to maintain the Union, cost what it will.”

“They’ll kill the women, will they?”

“They will conquer the South.”

“Contemptible hirelings! they’ll kill the women, will they?” she hissed.

“I don’t think they want to kill the women; but if that is necessary for the maintenance of the Union, I suppose they will have to do it.”

“Wretches! wretches! They’ll kill the women, will they?” she screamed, and her eyes blazed fire and scintillated like the eyes of a maniac. I thought she was going to leap upon me in her fury. We were standing facing each other; and I made up my mind that if she did assault me that I would do my little share of fighting, and choke a little of the treason out of her. But she changed her mind, and rushed from the room, slamming the door after her with such force as to shake the house to its foundations. A year after that she was playing the rôle of a Union woman, and was quite popular as a loyal Southerner among the officers.

No one in these calm days can imagine the fiery, cruel spirit of war. I was not afraid; the Stars and Stripes were over us, and the Union army within call.

But what seems laughable to me now, was exceedingly exasperating and insulting at that time.[137] There is no question about the matter—the Southern women, in their blind, partisan fury, prolonged the contest to the last extreme of desperation. They could not believe defeat possible.

No longer we hear the clash of arms,
And the cannon’s fearful booming;
No longer the torch of war alarms,
Our cities and homes consuming:
The smoke of battle has cleared away,
And Peace her vigil is keeping,
Though wet with tears are the flowers we lay,
Where our gallant dead are sleeping.



I  CAME down the river with a heavy lot of supplies at the beginning of the siege. I sent an order to the quartermaster for an ambulance. Instead of sending the ambulance, he sent me a fine silver-mounted, easy carriage captured at Jackson, which I afterwards found drew the fire of the enemy.

It was reported in Vicksburg that an old, experienced general, too crippled to ride on horseback, made his rounds in that carriage, and the Confederates made it a target every day.

One captain of sharpshooters told Dr. Maxwell of Davenport, Iowa, that his men had sent more than a hundred shots after that carriage, supposing some high official was the occupant. He was very much shocked to know that they had been shooting at a lady. In most cases the shot fell low, but the wheels were chipped till they were quite a curiosity.

I drove out in company with Mrs. General Stone to the nearest hospital one day. We had gone[139] through the tents, and attended to the business that had brought us, and were standing beside the carriage, when a shell from Vicksburg burst near us, scattering fragments all around us. To me the shock was terrific. I could feel my flesh crawl in the most uncomfortable way, and every hair on my head seemed to stand upright.

“Are you so near the enemy’s guns?” I questioned.

“Oh, yes; all the hospitals are under fire. A shell burst in this hospital a few days ago, killing one man and wounding three others.”

“It’s horrible that sick men must be placed under fire. Why don’t the authorities remove the sick and wounded to a safe distance?” I spoke with some spirit.

“You forget,” said the surgeon, “that General Johnson’s army is near, and that we are forced to draw in our lines. We would rather take the risk of a random shell than to risk being between two contending armies during a battle.”

That was quite another view of the matter, and now I was brought face to face with the facts of the situation. If I visited the hospitals I must do it under fire. I had been under fire before, but only for an hour. To go out day after day under a rain of lead was quite a different thing.

I went back to the Sanitary boat at the Yazoo Landing in a very thoughtful mood. The muddy,[140] sluggish stream was well named Yazoo, meaning the River of Death.

That night was spent in prayer. The next morning I arose with a courage born of faith. I seemed immortal; not a bullet had been moulded that could hit me.

I went out to my work without a fear. My carriage was struck time and again, and bullets whizzed past me, but never a feeling of fear crept into my heart. I was “under the shadow of His wings, and he covered me with His feathers.”

Mrs. General Stone, whose husband commanded the right wing of the army, and who now lives at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, camped with her father out on the bluffs. She invited me to leave the sluggish river with its miasma, and come up and stay with her; and I accepted the invitation. She had a beautiful tent put up beside her own; and as the lizards were very abundant, the feet of our cots were put in jars of water, and we tucked up the covers about us so as to keep them off of our beds. We could hear their little feet scratching as they raced after each other over the tents.

The soldiers got used to them, but somehow we women shrank from contact with anything so nearly akin to the serpent family.

Night and day the battle went on. The shells with their burning fuses would sail up into mid-air like stars of the first magnitude, and burst into a shower of sparks and fragments, setting the[141] heavens ablaze with their scintillation, and jarring the foundations of the earth with the thunder of their explosions.

We became so accustomed to the horrid sounds of war that the absence or abatement of it would awaken us out of our sleep.



To What Lengths Affections would carry Women in the War.

WAR brought heavy burdens of anxiety and sorrow to the women on both sides of the lines during the terrible struggle of 1861-1865. The anxious waiting for news from the battle-field, the heart-breaking scrutiny of the list of wounded and killed, cannot, with their sorrows, be measured by words and phrases.

One Philadelphia mother, whose husband and son were in the war, received news that her son had been killed in one of the smaller battles of Virginia. She determined to recover the body, and bring it home for burial. After many delays and hindrances, she reached the regiment of which he was a member. She had walked three miles to get there, and had left the casket she had brought down at the station, where fire had destroyed everything but the track.

The soldiers brought up the coffin, and the next morning exhumed the body. They had wrapped him carefully in his blanket, and marked the spot[143] with a rough board, on which they had carved his name and regiment and company with their knives. When they lifted him out, and laid him at her feet, she recognized him at once.

“Yes, this is my boy,” she said, pushing the damp hair back from his fair young face.

The soldiers, who were glad to render the heart-broken mother any service they could, carried the coffin down to the railroad track, where the station had once stood, and instructed her how to “flag a train;” and assuring her that “a train might come at any time,” they left her there with her dead.

There was no human dwelling in sight. She seated herself on her son’s coffin, beside the charred timbers and ashes, to await the coming of the train. Behind her was the little valley where the Union troops were stationed to guard an important pass. On either side of her were mountains that rose majestically, that might be infested with wild beasts and creeping things. Before her was a little brook and the bands of iron along its banks that rendered it possible to make the journey through that mountain gorge by rail. The afternoon wore away, but no train came; the shades of night closed her in, but no sound of wheels greeted her ears.

She built a little fire so as to signal the train. The sharp notes of the night birds, the fighting of the wildcats on the side of the mountain, the[144] mysterious noises in the air, the sound of stealthy footsteps near her,—all fell with fearful distinctness on her ears; for every nerve was strained to its utmost tension. But no train came to relieve her weary vigil. Her garments were wet with the dews of night; and she added wood to the smouldering fire, for the cheerful blaze comforted her.

As the night wore on, all nature seemed at rest. The night birds ceased their calls, the wildcats climbed higher up the mountain, and the whippoorwill ceased its mournful song. But this was even more terrible, as every remaining sound was more distinct. The rustling of a leaf or a noise in the bushes sent the blood hurrying to her heart.

At last gray streaks of light began to climb above the mountain in the east, and were tinged with purple and orange, and soon the white light of day fell about her; but it was not till late in the afternoon of the second day that a train came, and her weary vigil ended. For twenty-six hours she had been alone with her dead.

She reached Washington without delay, and before boarding the train for Philadelphia saw the coffin of her son put on board. But when she reached Philadelphia she found that by some mistake the remains had been left at Baltimore. She telegraphed back, and waited in the station till they were brought to her, and then followed them to her own house.

[145]Afterward her husband was killed; and she went to the front again, and secured his body, and brought it home for interment. Who shall measure the anguish of the women who watched at home till there was one dead in almost every house?

A mother in Maine received the news that her only son had been wounded and taken prisoner, and had been sent to Richmond. “I am going to him,” she said. Her husband and neighbors tried to dissuade her. On her journey toward the front she called on Governor Andrew of Massachusetts. “My dear madam,” he said, “I can do nothing for you. The only thing I could do would be to give you a letter of introduction to President Lincoln.”

“Well, give me that.”

When she reached Washington she called on the President, and after a weary waiting was shown into his presence. “Why, madam,” said the great-hearted Lincoln, “I can do nothing for you. If he were within our own lines, I would give you a pass, but I cannot send you to Richmond. At the best, I could only get you beyond our own pickets.”

“Then, please give me a pass beyond your pickets.”

This was done, and she passed the Union lines to fall into the hands of the Confederate pickets. The latter refused to allow her to proceed.

[146]“I am going right on to Richmond. Shoot if you will.” And she started on. They did not shoot, but took her into camp, and from the headquarters of that command she was sent on to Richmond.

When she reached the hospital where her son lay, the surgeon refused to allow her to see him.

“I must see him! I’m sure it will do him good to see his mother!”

As soon as the son saw her, he cried out,—

“There is my mother! I knew she would come. I’ll get well now.” And sure enough he did.



FOR days there had been unusual activity in the camp. The Fourth of July was to be celebrated by a general bombardment; and if there were signs of yielding, a sharp assault and an attempt to capture the city would be made. The besieged party was not in ignorance of what was going on. The pickets and sharpshooters, and the soldiers at points where the fortifications touched each other, had given the whole programme of a grand Fourth of July celebration in boastful proclamations. Everything was at fever-heat on the 3d of July, though the firing was kept up at the usual rate till about one or two P.M. Suddenly all firing ceased. The silence could almost be felt. There had been pauses before, lasting an hour or more, during interviews under a flag of truce. But as the afternoon slowly wore away, and the firing was not resumed, the excitement became intense. Later, it was reported that General Grant and General Pemberton had met under a great spreading oak-tree just inside the Union lines, and that General Grant[148] had made his terms known in the memorable phrase “unconditional surrender.”

It was a sad hour for Pemberton. His army was starving; his ammunition and his fighting force were so diminished that to continue the siege seemed madness. And yet he had held out so long hoping help might come—it might now be near him—that it was hard to surrender. His was a fearful struggle. Not many words passed between these two men as they stood there, a little apart from their staff officers. Later, the time of the surrender was fixed at 9 A.M. on the Fourth of July, which was the next morning. The news flew through the camp at lightning speed. Soon everybody, sick and well, knew that Vicksburg had surrendered. The firing had ceased, but on both sides every man stood at his post.

There was little sleep for any of us that night; the stillness was so unusual and impressive, and the excitement so intense, that sleep fled.

The morning of the Fourth dawned fair and beautiful. Very early in the morning, in company with Dr. Maxwell and Mrs. General Stone, I drove out to General Logan’s headquarters, whence the army was to begin the triumphant march into the city.

We took our position on the battlements of Fort Hill, where we had a full view of the city and surrounding country. The point where we[149] stood had been more sharply contested than any other. The fort had been undermined and blown up; and amid the confusion and disaster that buried a hundred or more in its ruins, an attempt had been made to scale the fort and enter the city. Before the dust of the explosion had cleared away a hand-to-hand battle was raging, and hand-grenades were being tossed as freely as balls on a playground, which exploded with great destruction. The roar of battle had raged again and again about that fort, but now all was calm and still at the dawning of this day of peace. As far as we could see, the muskets were stacked, and white handkerchiefs were fluttering above them. The Confederate and Union soldiers stood along the lines in groups, talking as friendly as though they had never exchanged shot with intent to kill. But there was no loud talking—all seemed to feel that it was a moment of deep solemnity.

At last the stillness was broken by the tramp of horsemen; and General Grant, with his staff of officers following, passed near us and honored us with a military salute,—not with guns, but that peculiar and graceful lifting the right hand, open, to the full length of the arm, with a graceful wave, and touching the cap,—a salute we never see in civil life, unless some old soldier forgets himself. Following close upon these came General McPherson and his staff. General McPherson was the most kingly looking man on horseback I ever saw.[150] In personal appearance he was a prince among men at any time; but on this glad morning he seemed to be grander and taller under the enthusiasm and flush of victory than ever before. General Logan followed with his staff and his division on foot.

We stood there with our field-glasses in our hands, watching them as they marched down into the city. There was a long halt. They approached each other forming into long double columns, then we saw, opposite the blue, the gray forming into lines. Every eye was strained to take in the scene. There was a movement forward of officers, the flash in the bright sunlight of swords as they were handed over to the conquerors, and then handed back; for General Pemberton and his staff were allowed to carry their swords, and enjoy the freedom of the city. They had conducted an honorable warfare and must not be humiliated.

But now there was another point of interest. The Confederate flag had floated over the Court House tower through all these months of conflict, but the Stars and Stripes was now to take its place. Soon a little glinting of our loved flag came into view. But what could be the matter? Surely a tangle in the ropes could be adjusted in a few minutes. All stood in breathless anxiety. Such a delay at such a time was startling, and every moment seemed an hour to those who were[151] watching from a distance. At last with rapid sweep the Stars and Stripes was run up to the top of the staff, and a heaven-sent breeze unfurled it to our delighted eyes.

What a burst of enthusiasm greeted it. We waved our handkerchiefs, while men who had faced the cannon’s mouth for the flag sobbed in their wild joy, and flung their caps into the air. But the Confederate soldiers, as far as we could see, stood with folded arms, silent, motionless. And yet with all our gladness that the guns had ceased to belch forth their murderous fire, there was a deep, fathomless undertone of sorrow over the cruel, bloody work of red-handed war, that the glad acclaim of triumph and victory could not drown.



IN 1863, just after the fall of Vicksburg, I visited the hospitals in Helena, Ark. Going into a large ward one day, filled with sick and wounded soldiers, I saw in the farthest corner of the room a very sick man. I noticed him the more because he was looking towards me, and there was upon his face such a look of agony and despair as I had never seen on any human face before, and I trust I may never see again. I said to the surgeon, who had stepped in with me,—

“You have one very sick man here.” And when I designated him, he answered, “Yes, he is almost gone; poor fellow, he’ll not live long.” I said no more,—my heart was too deeply touched,—but went directly to him. As I approached his cot-side, I said tenderly, “You seem to be very sick, my friend.” The look of agony deepened in his face as he answered,—

My friend! I have no friend. I am here dying among strangers, and nobody cares whether I live or die.”

“Oh, don’t say that. You have many friends[153] in the North;” and I was going to say, “I’ll be your friend,” but I remembered how empty such a profession of friendship would be on the part of a stranger, and instead, I said, “There is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Can’t you make Jesus your friend in this dark hour?”

When I spoke the name of Jesus, he cried aloud,—

“Oh! would that Jesus were my friend; but I am a great sinner.”

“But Jesus is the sinner’s friend.”

“O lady! you don’t know what a wretched sinner I am, to what lengths of wickedness I’ve run, or you would not think that Jesus could save me.”

But I answered, “You don’t know what a great Saviour we have, or you would not doubt. He is the mighty God, and he is able to save to the uttermost; and that means that he can save you.”

“It is too late. It is too late!” he cried with such bitterness of soul that the men lying upon their cots—brave young men, who bore in their own persons the marks of their heroism—covered their faces with their bedclothes, and wept like little children.

But I urged that it was not too late, and commenced telling him of the thief on the cross; but he stopped me.

[154]“Oh, I know about the thief on the cross; but, lady, I am a thousand times worse than the thief on the cross.”

“If you were ten thousand times worse, Jesus could save you; for he can save to the uttermost.”

These words gave hope, and he exclaimed, “Pray for me!”

I knelt by his cot-side; and while he prayed and I pleaded, “the opening heaven around us shone,” and the mighty power of saving grace came down upon his soul.

The tempest was stilled, and all was peace. I looked up into his face to see, that in a moment—as it were, in the twinkling of an eye—all the lines of despair had been taken out of his face, and that it was beaming with joy; a joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

If I had been an infidel up to that time, it seems to me that I should have been convicted of the truth of Christianity in that presence.

There were many witnesses to that scene; and it was as though the Master would show his mighty saving power, for he healed that man soul and body. My secretary was with me. Three days from that time I found him on the shady side of the house reading the Testament I had given him the day before. The same look of peace and joy was in his face, as he said,—

“Oh, I am so happy this morning! I have a furlough, and I am going home. How glad my[155] Christian mother will be to know that I have found salvation.”

“Young man,” I said, “wherever you go, remember that you were snatched as a brand from the burning.”

“I can never forget that. My disease and despair were crushing me down. I must have died if salvation had not come just then; but when you spoke the name of Jesus, I knew you were a Christian, and that you would help me if you could.”



TWO weeks after the surrender of Vicksburg, I took passage on a steamer for the North. Just before the boat left the wharf, a gentleman whom I knew came on board in company with a sick friend, whom he introduced as Mr. Brown, “Correspondent of the New York Herald.” I was so weary with the scenes of war, with the heat and hard labor which had been the common lot of all workers during the siege, that I did not want to talk to any one, much less to a “Herald reporter.” He was sick, and was going home for a season of rest, so he said. How deceptive appearances are. I set him down at once as a drinking man, because his face was flushed and his eyes red; and I determined to be as unsocial as possible. I did not see him again till evening, when he came back into the ladies’ cabin and began social conversation.

I determined our talk should be religious, and soon introduced the subject. He had remarked[157] that we were making headway, and would probably reach Helena by eight o’clock the next morning. But he said, “of course there are dangers on every side—sand-bars, snags, and guerillas. So we can’t tell where we will be in the morning.

“It matters little,” I answered, “to those who live for two worlds. We have the promise that everything shall work together for good to those who love God.”

“I believe that, and am living for both worlds,” he responded heartily. Then began one of the most interesting conversations that it has ever been my privilege to engage in. He was a most deeply pious man, and through all the army life had walked with God.

As the evening wore on, conversation turned upon heaven, and the joys and privileges of the redeemed. I remember how his face glowed with holy enthusiasm as we talked of heaven. He contrasted the noisy, horrid scenes of war with the peace and sweet harmony of that world of light and love. He said, “I am prepared for such a blessed change of scenes at any moment.”

The evening was now well-spent, and bidding him good-night I retired to my stateroom. The next morning when I stepped out into the ladies’ cabin, I found the captain of the boat waiting for me.

“Did you know the gentleman you were talking with last evening?”

[158]“Yes, slightly.”

“He is dead.”

“Is it possible?”

“Yes, he is dead and cold; he must have died immediately after retiring. The gentleman who occupied the lower berth noticed his arm hanging down over the side of the berth when he went to retire, and spoke to him, but he made no answer; and this morning his arm was just in the same position.”

Yes, he was dead. He had gone from that talk about heaven right into the grandeur and glory of all its blessed mysteries. How thankful I was that our conversation had been about Christian duty and heaven!

My thoughts turned quickly to the widowed mother and the sisters so well beloved; for he had spoken of them all most tenderly. We were now nearing Helena, where he must be taken ashore and buried. He had died of heart disease; and it was that, not drink, which made his face so flushed.

I wrote to his mother, who lived in Lancaster, Pa., telling her all I could recall of our talk about God, duty, heaven, and all the circumstances of our brief acquaintance and his death.

One of his sisters answered my letter, for his mother was quite prostrated by the shock the news of his death had given her.

She said they were looking for his home-coming[159] every hour, when the sad message that he was dead and buried reached them. But the sister’s faith rose triumphantly above it all.

“We all thank God for the loving providence which cast our dear one in the pathway of a Christian who directed his thoughts and hopes heavenward at the last. It is a great comfort to us that his faith was so bright and clear, and that his last thoughts on earth were about heaven.”



THE thunder of the cannon had ceased at Vicksburg. The artillery and heavy guns of two great armies were idle and silent; and although more than one hundred thousand men of war, the conquerors and the conquered, were in and about the fallen city, it was as quiet and orderly as a country village. Only the day before, July 4, 1863, I had stood with friends on Fort Hill and witnessed the surrender; but now, July 5, duty and conscience led me into the hospitals where the sick and wounded of the Confederate army were quartered. The hospitals were in a wretched condition because of lack of supplies, and some of the sufferers had been lying through all the long siege.

The battle was always on. Night and day the thunder of the guns and the bursting of shells made night hideous and the day a terror. Every nerve had been for weeks on the rack—in the battle, and yet unable to lift a hand for defence. Almost every hospital had been riddled with shells,[161] and any moment the end might come to any one of them. But now all was quiet. As I passed through the various hospitals distributing supplies, I noticed a boy looking wistfully toward me. I went directly to him. As I took his hand in my own, and looked into his fair frank face, I felt that any mother might be proud of such a boy.

“Have you a mother?” I asked. Instantly his great brown eyes filled with tears, as he answered,

“Yes, madam, I have the best mother in the world.”

His answer pleased me greatly, there was so much of heart and earnestness in it.

“Where does your mother live?”

He mentioned the name of the village near Mobile, Alabama.

“Are you sure she is living there now?”

“Yes, she owns a place in the country near the village. There is nowhere else for her to live.”

“Would you like to have me write a letter to her about you?”

“You couldn’t do it—it wouldn’t get through the lines.”

“Yes, I can send it. I often send letters. I send them through the commanding general when a flag of truce passes.”

“Oh, if you can, do have pity on my poor mother! She is such a good mother. She said to me when I was leaving her: ‘Now, my child, do the best you can. Whatever may happen, be[162] good and true. Don’t swear or drink or forget your mother. Remember your mother is praying for you, and God may have compassion on us and bring you back to me again.’ Oh, if you could only let her know that I’m alive, and that I’ve been good and true, I should be so glad,” and at this last outburst the tears ran down over his face.

I took the directions, and consulted the physician as to his condition; and that night, before I slept in my new quarters, in a house that had been assigned me in Vicksburg, I wrote to the mother about as follows:—

Dear Madam,—I found your son in Vicksburg [giving his name, company, and regiment]. He was severely wounded in the battle outside of Vicksburg, and was carried into the city.

His condition is now hopeful. The surgeons tell me he will recover. He desires me to tell you that he has been good and true, and has never violated your injunctions.

Though we may differ on the great questions that have led to this terrible war, I feel it to be my duty as a mother and a Christian to let you know about your son, and that he still lives.

He will be moved to a Northern hospital; but you can reach him with home news by writing to my office, Sanitary Commission, St. Louis, Mo. I will arrange with him to notify me each time he changes hospitals. You must send your letter unsealed. Write briefly. Say nothing about the war or condition of affairs in the South or North, and I think you will reach me.”

The next day I drove over to General Grant’s headquarters with that and some other letters,[163] and gave them to him as I had often done before, to send through the lines. In a very short time I had an answer from the mother. This was her reply:—

Dear Lady,—My eyes are full of tears of joy as I write. Your letter made a rift in the black clouds of sorrow that have hung over us for weeks. It was like a beam of heavenly glory from the Throne. At first it seemed too good to believe; but the name and company and regiment are all right, and it must be so. Your letter found us all dressed in black. I thought I had reliable news that my boy was killed outside of Vicksburg, and I did not hope even to find his grave.

Now we are all dressed in white.”

Then followed some family news, and she closed with the following sentence:—

“Give my love to my dear boy, and tell him we are praying for him; and be assured, dear lady, when we pray for him, we will pray for you—that you may be kept safely through all the dangers of this cruel war.”

Frequent letters were sent by the mother, and I kept track of the boy and answered them.

The last time I saw him was just before the close of the war. He was well and strong, but was a prisoner in Camp Douglass, near Chicago, Ill. I hope he reached his home and mother safely.



A LADY from Philadelphia searched for days over the wide battle-field of Shiloh for the grave of her only child—a bright, beautiful, Christian boy, only eighteen. A detail of men was sent from the regiment to help search for the grave. She was quartered on our Sanitary boat, and I went with her. “They are all buried side by side—all we could find of our regiment,” said the sergeant who had charge of the squad of men sent out to help us search. We scattered, keeping in sight of each other, and in calling distance, and searched thoroughly; but it was not till the second day that we found the grave.

The mother found it first of all. The name was written with a pencil on a bit of board at the head. She gave a call, and waved her handkerchief, and then fell on her knees, with her arms over the mound of earth above her boy. He was all she had on earth; for he was the only child of his mother, and she was a widow. As we gathered about the grave, and saw her frail form convulsed by the sobs of agony she tried to conceal, the[165] roughest and bravest of the men turned away to hide their tears. “He was a good soldier; a good Christian; we had few like him in the regiment,” were the kindly comments that were made by his companions in arms. As I lifted her away from the grave, her eyes, though full of tears, caught sight of a passion flower at the edge of the mound.

She plucked it and took it away as a keepsake, saying, “God is good to give me this token of his own love and passion.” The body was to be taken up and placed in the burial-case she had brought for the purpose. They did not wish her to see it. Officers came and tried to dissuade her. No, she must see him.

“No matter how mangled, I shall know him; and I must know that it is my son.”

And she had her way. He was brought up; and when the blanket which was his only coffin was unrolled, there he was as natural as life.

She clipped a few locks from his wealth of brown hair, and kneeling by her dead, thanked God that he had given her back the body of her son, and for the hope that animated her that they should meet again in heaven. If by any possibility these lines should fall under the eyes of that lady, whose name I have forgotten, she will recognize the story, and I am sure she will be glad to renew the acquaintance with the strange lady who helped her find her boy’s grave.



WHEN the lines of battle were near Corinth, Miss., hearing of a hospital at some little distance from the town, I determined to visit it, taking supplies and delicacies with me. Two ladies accompanied me. The driver of the ambulance, who assumed to know all about the roads, and just where to find that hospital, and who had a splendid team of horses, drove us off in good style.

After we had been en route for some time, going at a rapid pace, I questioned the driver, “Are you sure you are on the right road; it seems to me we have come a long way?”

“Oh, yes; I know the road very well.”

“I wonder what those men are running after,” remarked one of the ladies of the company.

It did really seem that men were springing up out of the ground. They were running after us and waving their hands; but the steady, heavy tramp of the feet of our horses drowned their voices; and we failed to hear the oft-repeated command, “Halt!” “Halt!” which came from every direction.

[167]“Just look back! There are a lot of men on horseback coming at full speed,” said one of the ladies.

It was only a moment before the foremost rider was near us, and he thundered out in tones I shall never forget, “Halt!”

Our driver reined in his horses. “Turn your ambulance back as quickly as you can, you fool! You are driving right into the enemy’s camp.”

The driver whipped up his horses and retreated at a gallop, but not until the Confederate sharpshooters had begun to send their bullets flying after the men who had come to our rescue. Some of the missiles came dangerously near to the little ambulance company. The cans and bundles which had been placed upon the seats with so much care, and held with our outstretched hands, now went tumbling into a common heap on the floor, and before the race was over two of us were down on top of them. When we were at a safe distance from the enemy, the horsemen riding near us, a halt was called, and we gathered ourselves up and tried to look respectable after such a rough and tumble ride.

A captain rode round in front, and in a tone which made the cold shivers creep along the spinal column, demanded, “Who is in charge of this ambulance?”

“I am,” I answered with all the self-composure I could command at that instant.

[168]“And so you were trying to reach the lines of the enemy with supplies and this good team and a Union soldier?”

“No, sir. I am as loyal as any man who wears shoulder-straps, and I can prove it. I was trying to reach a hospital with these supplies [naming the hospital]. The driver thought he knew the way, but it seems he did not.”

“That is not a likely story. That hospital is not in that direction at all; and I overtook you near the enemy’s camp, more than a mile beyond where we allow any one to go. Why did you run past our pickets who demanded you to halt?”

“I did not see any pickets, or hear any one call ‘Halt!’ until you came up.”

“You are all under arrest! Driver, you will drive to the headquarters of the commanding general.”

At these words my two lady friends turned very pale; but I laughed, as I was acquainted with the commanding general. Remembering my pass from the Secretary of War, and other important official papers in my possession, I said to the captain who rode alongside of the ambulance, “Would it make any change in your course if I should show you passes from high officials? I have no objection to going to headquarters, but it is a loss of time.”

“No, madam! You are all under arrest. The officers don’t give passes, or send good teams and[169] Union soldiers, to take people into the rebel camps.”

It was of no use to say anything more, for the officer had told the truth. In due time we reached headquarters and were ordered out. I led the procession, clambering out over our scattered supplies as best I could. The captain marched in beside me. The captain gave the military salute, and was about to report that he had brought in these people, captured while trying to run the Union lines; but there were several officers there who knew me, who came forward to shake hands, and the general among them, and he was silenced.

“Is there anything I can do for you to-day, madam?” the general inquired in his most gracious manner.

“Yes, General, there is. I and this forlorn little company whom I have led, and misled, are under arrest for a most serious crime. We were on the enemy’s ground, and were pushing for the enemy’s camp at full speed, when this gallant officer rode down in the face of the enemy and rescued us. I want to thank him before you all.”

Of course further explanation was made, and we were all released. The ambulance driver and myself were admonished “to make certain thereafter that we were on the right road.” I shook hands with the captain and thanked him, and the officers present congratulated him, and we all left headquarters in high spirits.



Brother of Mrs. Sue Pike Sanders, Past National President, W. R. C.

THE atmosphere was thick with dust, and stifling with the sulphurous smoke that came in clouds from the near battle-field, as I drove around Vicksburg. The air was as hot as a furnace, under the pitiless rays of a June sun, and vibrated with the roar and thunder of heavy artillery and bursting shells, till every nerve was on the rack.

It was unusually late, and I was weary and heartsick.

But as I was on my way to my quarters, I noticed a soldier lying in a field not far from the main travelled road. There was something in the appearance of the man that attracted my attention, and I stopped my carriage and went to him.

At first I thought he was dead; but a closer examination convinced me that he was alive.

The shades of night were gathering around us, and the point where he lay was one of unusual danger.

[171]I hurried back to my carriage, and brought water and restoratives, and began an earnest effort to resuscitate him.

It was not long till he opened his great brown eyes in a questioning way.

“Poor boy!” I said in pitying tones; but he closed his eyes as though he had not fully understood.

After a little he looked up into my face, and said in a whisper,—

“They left me here to die.”

“Oh, but you will be taken care of now, and you’ll get well. Don’t think about dying—just think how soon you will be well again.”

He was a young soldier, not much if any over sixteen or eighteen years old. He was lying there, with all his heavy army clothing on, in a most pitiable condition.

There was a hospital not very far away; and leaving George, my driver, to minister to him, I went up to the hospital and called for the surgeon in charge.

“There is a soldier lying down here near the road who is nearly dead. Will you not have him brought up, and see what you can do for him?” I said.

“Why, isn’t he dead yet?” exclaimed an attendant.

I then learned that the regiment to which the young soldier belonged had been ordered out to[172] the Big Black River, and that all the sick in their regimental hospital had been brought with them to that point—there unloaded and reported to the hospital authorities. The attendants had come down and taken all but this one man, and had left him there to die alone. I was righteously indignant, and I denounced the whole proceeding as inhuman and scandalous.

The surgeon and attendants were alarmed.

“Such carelessness on the part of the surgeon, and brutality on the part of men charged with the care of the sick and wounded, were disgraceful!” I declared.

It was not many minutes till the surgeon and attendants with a stretcher were at his side.

Everything that could possibly be done for any one was done for him.

The surgeons had hard work to save him, however.

If I had passed him by unnoticed, they all agreed that he would have been dead by the next morning.

Day after day as I drove about the lines I ministered to him till he was out of danger.

Years passed before I had the privilege of seeing him again. Then he was a great stalwart man, and bore the title of Hon. E. M. Pike, member of the Senate of Illinois.

He is now living at Chenoa, Ill., has a lovely wife and two children, a son and daughter full-grown.[173] He has a large manufacturing establishment there, and is beloved and honored by all who know him.

He has given good proof that he was well worth saving.



A FEW days after the surrender of Vicksburg, I called at General Grant’s headquarters on business.

Generals McPherson and Rawlins were the only officials present with him. I was received most cordially, and inquiries were made by General Grant at once, as to whether the house he had assigned to me was comfortable and satisfactory.

I assured him that it was, and spoke with great enthusiasm of the colored servants left in charge of the property by the owners, who had fled from Vicksburg before the siege. I was especially enthusiastic about the cook.

“Why don’t you invite us up to test her cookery?” questioned General McPherson. I hardly knew what to say, as I had made it a rule to shun all appearances of social life.

“Oh, you would not come; you are all too busy paroling prisoners,” I answered.

“Oh, yes! we would certainly come if you should invite us. Is not that so, General Grant?”

[175]“I shall certainly come if invited,” was General Grant’s reply.

“Then I most cordially invite you.”

“When shall we come?” questioned General McPherson.

“To-morrow, if that will suit you.”

That being satisfactory, they agreed to come the next day at one o’clock, General Rawlins being included in the invitation, which he laughingly said, “We have given ourselves.”

When I returned to my quarters that noon, and announced that General Grant and two other generals were to dine with me the next day, there was great consternation and excitement. I had tented with Mrs. General Stone during the siege, and she had come into Vicksburg and occupied the house with me. She was dismayed at the news. She declared that there was not one decent tablecloth on the premises, that there were no two napkins alike, or two dishes that matched. “The fact is,” she said, “everything in this house mismatches. And how are you going to get them into the dining-room with all the steps torn away? Are they to walk up that inclined plane on the boards?”

I told her I did not know of any other way; but as we had to perform that feat three times a day, I had no doubt they could get up from the hall to the dining-room once. Aunt Dinah, the cook, who was at the head of the colored members of the household, was enthusiastic.

[176]“I tell you, honey, I’ll mak ebery ding shine, an’ I’ll hab de tablecloth so slick a gnat’s heel would fly up on it.”

All the colored people were jubilant. It would be impossible to describe their antics. The little children danced a jubilee; jumping up and down, keeping up a chorus: “Ginnel Grant’s a-cummen! Ginnel Grant’s a-cummen! Ginnel Grant’s de bigest ginnel of dem all!”

It was not an hour till every colored man, woman, and child in that part of the town knew that at a certain hour the next day General Grant was to be at that house. The colored men searched every sutler’s shop for supplies, and Aunt Dinah did her best in the cooking line. The next morning I went out among the hospitals as usual, but came home before noon, so as to be there when my guests arrived. I found all the neighboring fences about the grounds lined with colored people.

Mrs. Stone said to me as soon as I came in,—

“Now, you must not laugh or object, but Aunt Dinah has sent and got two professional waiters; they are here now, dressed in broadcloth, with swallow-tailed coats and white vests and white gloves.”

Of course I did laugh, and she laughed quite as heartily as myself, at the incongruity of the arrangement. Here, in one of the deserted houses of Vicksburg, that a shell had crashed through,[177] making it almost impossible to get into the dining-room, with nothing in the way of table-outfit but the most ordinary camping utensils, we had two professional waiters, rigged out in a style that could hardly be matched at a state dinner at the presidential mansion, we were to receive great generals. It was indeed laughable. Aunt Dinah felt she ought to explain the matter to me.

“Honey, I want to ’splain ’bout dese ’fessional watahs. Our common niggahs would never do to wait on fine gentlemen. You see, dey’s awkard an’ hain’t got no good close. So I just hir’d dese fashionable watahs case I wanted to have the thing done up right.”

Of course I made no objections. At the appointed hour, General Grant, dressed in military uniform, riding his little black horse that had carried him so often around the fiery lines of Vicksburg during the siege, and General McPherson, dressed in elegant military fashion, tall, stately, commanding, and splendidly mounted, rode up in front of our house.

General Stone, who had commanded the extreme right during the siege, and who had come up from his military camp to dine with us that day, went out and hitched their horses, as there were no orderlies with them.

General Rawlins, who was prevented at the last moment from coming, sent his regrets. Black faces were peeping out from the near houses, and[178] the fences were black with colored people. It was perhaps the one chance of their lives to see their deliverer, the great captain who had opened the prison-house of Vicksburg, and given liberty to all the people.

Everything passed off very pleasantly. When dinner was announced, taking the arm of General Grant, I led the way to the dining-room. Mrs. General Stone took the arm of General McPherson, General Stone having already gone into the dining-room to help us up. The stairs being torn away, and the ascent being made on two planks that stood at an angle of forty-five degrees, he reached down his hands and helped us up. When the two great commanders reached the dining-room, they stood for some time by the broken walls and stairs, and discussed shells as destructive missiles, and speculated as to which battery sent that shell crashing through the house. They finally decided that it came from one of Admiral Porter’s gunboats.

The dinner followed, and was most thoroughly enjoyed. All the praise I had given our cook she justified in that grandest effort of her life.

Aunt Dinah held the door a little ajar so that she could see and hear all that was going on in the dining-room. She said to me afterwards, with a satisfied chuckle, “Oh! Laws a massa, didn’t dey praise my cooken! I never felt so big in my life. Seems to me I’se one of the biggest cooks in the world.”

[179]The professional waiters were skilled and graceful, even though a napkin over a tin platter was used as a tray.

Aunt Dinah said very confidentially afterwards to me,—

“You see, honey, ’twould neber hab done to hab our niggahs done it. T’ey’d been most scar’t to death, and sure to spill something. It won’t do to hab common niggahs waten on high an’ mighty folks like big ginnels.”

The guests enjoyed the dinner and the after visit. The siege; the surrender; the terms of parole; the condition of the people who had been shut up in the city during the siege; their life in the caves; the condition of the hospitals; and “what next?” were freely discussed in that frank and easy way that characterized General Grant when he was surrounded by a group of friends he could trust.

When the two great generals took their leave, every colored person in the neighborhood knew that the smaller man was General Grant, and they were watching to get another glimpse of him. Both generals thanked us for inviting them, and assured us that it was the most restful, home-like visit they had enjoyed since the war began.

It was my privilege to dine with them on several occasions after that, and to dine with General Grant at the White House during his presidential terms; but there was not the enthusiasm and novelty[180] on those occasions that clustered around the dinner and visit in the shell-wrecked house after the fall of Vicksburg.

General and Mrs. Stone live at their old home in Mount Pleasant, Iowa; but the two great captains of the Union hosts are gone—McPherson falling in the midst of the struggle on the bloody field of strife near Atlanta, Ga., and Grant, after passing through untold perils, passing peacefully away, and even in death immortalizing Mount McGregor.



AS we were on our way to the brick church hospital, at Helena, Ark., a very large man, with his hair curled and hanging over his shoulders, passed us and looked back, my secretary and myself both imagined, in an impudent way. When we reached the hospital we found him there. He put himself in our way as though he wished to speak with us, but we both avoided him. At last he came up and said to me, “Madam, I want to speak with you; there is a man over here that the doctor thinks will die. I thought maybe you’d come over and pray with him. I’ve been trying to lead him to trust the Lord Jesus, but he don’t seem to find the way.”

How that great stalwart fellow was transfigured before us from a rowdy to a saint. And as we went about the hospital everybody said, “If it wasn’t for Liberty Hicks I don’t know what we would do.” It was not long till a great cake of ice was floating about in the barrel of tepid water that stood near the pulpit, and lemons from our supply were in many a fever-parched hand. We[182] found out afterwards that Liberty Hicks was an Illinois soldier, and though big, coarse, and strong of body, he was as tender in his ministrations as a woman, and as faithful as tender. And although it was not our privilege to ever meet him again, our good wishes have ever followed him.

Liberty Hicks was a grand hospital worker. I heard of his labors afterwards, for he accompanied the sick up the river. But like many others he overworked, and I learn from his daughter who lives near him in Illinois that he is permanently disabled. It must, however, be a great consolation to him now, in his old age, to know that by his faithful services he saved many precious lives.



GOVERNOR SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD and some of the state officials of Iowa came down to visit the army during the siege of Vicksburg. I was invited to go with the distinguished visitors on a tour of inspection, as was also Mrs. General Stone.

Among the points of danger visited was the fortifications on the “Extreme Right,” which was up above Vicksburg and down to the water’s edge. The fortifications were so near together that the men could talk back and forth.

Our boys had a printing-press and type, and there were men who could write sensational news of the success of the Union army to order.

They would buy a St. Louis paper, and then get out an “Extra.”

Surrender of Lee—Capture of Jeff. Davis—Richmond Taken.

The particulars of all these events would be given in the most plausible and convincing manner.

[184]A stone was tied to the papers, and some wag would call out,—

“Say, Rebs, do you want the latest news? Newspapers are just in from St. Louis. The war is over.”

“Yes, throw them over;” and over they would go.

But the Confederates would not believe a word unless it was favorable to their cause, and they laughed loud and long over the “lies of the Yanks.” But they kept it up on the principle that “everything is fair in war.”

“Put up your head above the embankment, and you will soon see whether the war is over or not,” the soldiers on the other side would say. On that day, while we stood there, some of the Iowa officials put their hats on their canes, and had them perforated by bullets.

A voice came over the ramparts, “Say, Yanks, do you want some tobacker?”


“Will you trade coffee for tobacker?”

“Yes; throw it over, and we will throw over enough coffee to pay for it.”

We waited in expectation a little while, then a warning came,—

“Look out there, Yanks!”

All stepped back out of danger. A cloth that had once been white, but had evidently been in the trenches, came over filled with a lot of the most abominable tobacco I had ever seen.

[185]After due inspection, the cloth was shaken a few times and filled with coffee, and a warning cry given,—

“Look out, Rebs!” and over the coffee went.

“All right; thanks;” and the firing was resumed.

There was, I learned afterwards, trading all along the lines.



EARLY on the morning of the 5th of July, the roadways being opened, I drove into Vicksburg. On every side the evidences of the severe struggle were visible. The concentrated fire of shot and shell had riddled nearly every building.

The solid shot had done much less damage than the shells, which, after striking, usually exploded. The solid cannon-balls cut clean round holes in the solid brick walls, with less damage to the walls in most cases than could have been done by a mason’s chisel. But the murderous shot and shell had come from every direction, and scattered the household goods and the inmates, killing many citizens and soldiers, and wounding many more. The whole city was an immense hospital.

And it is but kindly and fair to say, just here, that no city was ever more heroically defended; and that the gallant force inside of Vicksburg did not yield until starvation stared them in the face. There was nothing to eat in the city. The soldiers[187] had been on short rations for a long time; the citizens were without food. Cattle, horses, mules, dogs, cats, rats, and mice had been devoured. The sick and wounded in the hospitals had been sustained on mule soup for a long while, and the supply of mules was about exhausted. There was no living creature in the shape of dogs and cats and rats to be seen in the streets or about the houses—all had been eaten for food.

The United States government issued rations to the starving people at once. I visited the hospitals immediately. I had large supplies of hospital stores, which were sent to me by Mr. Yeateman of St. Louis, President of the Western Sanitary Commission, who was a Southern gentleman, and who, though loyal to the Stars and Stripes, yet felt deep sympathy for the Southerners in their terrible sufferings; and also from Louisville and elsewhere, for I, too, was linked by ties of blood to the people of the South, and the history of Kentucky was interlinked with the history of my ancestors.

These immense supplies were sent me, in anticipation of the surrender, for the Confederate Hospital of Vicksburg. Some of the hospitals were in a most wretched condition; the men being without beds or pillows, or any other comforts for the sick. This was especially true of what were called the “field hospitals;” the hospitals immediately in the rear of the fighting force, into which[188] the wounded were carried before being transported to the permanent hospitals.

In these hospitals I found men lying on the floor with their knapsacks under their heads, sweltering in their heavy army clothing. We found afterwards that their clothing was full of vermin. One poor man who looked very ill, and seemed to be suffering much, lay on the floor of one of the first hospitals I visited. I stopped to speak with him, coming close beside him. A Confederate surgeon sprang forward, and, taking me by the arm, said, “Please, lady, don’t go so near, you are in danger of getting vermin on you.” I had the satisfaction within the next twenty-four hours of seeing that hospital thoroughly cleansed, and every soldier lying clean and comfortable in a cot-bed between clean sheets, and his head resting on a soft white pillow; while a bonfire just in the rear of the building was consuming all the old clothing and former contents of the hospital. The Confederate surgeons were retained in the hospitals where the Union army found them, and many of them were faithful, gentlemanly men. I remember very kindly the medical director, or chief surgeon, of Pemberton’s army, although I have forgotten his name. He seemed very anxious to improve the condition of the hospitals, and was very grateful for help and supplies. The wounded were lying on the floor because there were no beds for them; they were starving—dying for lack of proper nourishment[189] because there was little or no food for them, and so the hospitals were necessarily in a wretched state.

The hospitals in the centre of the city were in better condition. There were many incidents connected with my visits to these hospitals which I should be glad to record, but space will not allow.



AMONG the gallant Union officers who distinguished themselves for wisdom and bravery was Captain Walke, commander of the Carondelet. I knew him personally as a benevolent Christian gentleman. No one who knew him doubted his profession of faith in the Divine Redeemer.

While his gunboat was lying at Cairo, just before the battle of Fort Donelson, he came into the church one Sabbath morning and quietly took a seat. The minister who was expected disappointed the audience.

As soon as that was made known, Captain Walke arose and went into the pulpit, opened the Bible, and saying, “Let us worship God,” read the One Hundred and Third Psalm. Closing the book, he talked most impressively of our duty to God and to man, and of the boundless, measureless love of Christ, and, offering an earnest prayer, dismissed the congregation with the long-metre doxology.

The people, who had been held with almost[191] breathless interest by the eloquent, forceful words of the stranger, began to ask, “Who is he?” And great was their surprise when they learned that the man who filled the pulpit that day was Captain Walke, commander of the Carondelet, an iron-clad that with bristling cannon was lying at anchor near the town.

It was at Cairo that I first met Captain Walke. As he was often at the chief ports where the army was protected by gunboats, I had the privilege of meeting him occasionally.

Two days before the running of the blockade at Vicksburg, a little company of us went over from the Sanitary boat to bid Captain Walke godspeed and farewell.

He had just completed the task of pouring two barrels of coal-oil over his gunboat, and whitewashing the lower deck, where the guns were to be loaded by the light of the whitewash.

The oil was to prevent solid shot from adhering; striking a smooth oiled surface they would be more likely to fly off on a tangent, he explained by way of apology, as the gangway was reached, and the dresses of the ladies were besmeared with coal-oil. The sides of the Carondelet were more than three feet thick, and consisted of alternate layers of wood and iron.

In answer to the question,—

“Is not the eve of a battle a season of great anxiety?” he said,—

[192]“No; the time of anxiety with me is when I am putting the ship in order. When I have done all that I can do, then I can serenely trust in God.”

In the course of the conversation, he said that the most beautiful sight he had ever seen was the bursting of shells against the side of his ship, sending out volumes of fire, and scintillations of light like a cloud of glory.

Our godspeeds and good wishes were earnest and heartfelt. We all felt that it might be a last farewell.

He went through the fiery channel in safety, but I never saw his face again.

His death occurred not a great while thereafter.

A grand, true Christian gentleman, and a brave soldier, was Captain Walke.



THERE was a very large hospital at Madison, Ind., which was very much crowded in 1864-1865 with the sick and wounded. I established a special-diet kitchen there for the preparation of food for the very sick and the severely wounded, and placed one of my lady helpers in charge. She had scarcely assumed the supervision of the cookery till she began complaining of the quality of the food, especially of the coffee. As she put it: “There is nothing in this hospital fit for a well man to eat, much less these sick and wounded and dying men.”

I was in Washington at the time; but I telegraphed to Miss Louisa Vance, one of the shrewdest and most careful workers of the Christian Commission, to report at the hospital at Madison, Ind., and await instructions. I met her there with carefully written instructions: “Go on with the work, and don’t complain, but watch. There is something wrong in that hospital; find out what it is. The government furnishes good supplies[194] and good coffee; find out what becomes of them, but don’t, for the life of these men, let the surgeon and hospital steward know that they are suspected. Make frequent errands to the room of the commissary,” etc. She was not long in finding out as to the cheating and adulteration. The first clew was obtained because of the rule in that hospital, that a barrel be placed beside the kitchen door, and all the coffee-grounds emptied into it. “Boys,” she said to some of the men who did the cooking, “why do you put the coffee-grounds there? They have been used; they are no account.”

“It’s the surgeon’s orders.”

“He has them hauled away and emptied, I suppose?”

“No; he has them dried on the commissary floor.”

“Gives them to poor people, I suppose?”

“I don’t know,” answered one; but there was a general laugh among the men in the kitchen.

She made an excuse to go to the commissary-room; and there, sure enough, on the floor, was a large pile of old coffee-grounds. The men employed there were busy stirring and turning it over to hasten the drying process. She asked for something in a careless way, and then said as she was leaving,—

“You have a good lot of coffee, boys. What in the world are you going to do with so much coffee?”

[195]“The surgeon in charge is going to sell it, I guess;” and then they all laughed. She felt sure from their manner that these men knew all the secrets of that commissary department, and it must be her business to get it from them. But I was urging her to be careful; for if false charges were brought against the surgeon in charge of a large hospital, it would injure the diet-kitchen service all along the line. We were in daily correspondence. She had tested the coffee every way she could think of, but could not decide as to how it was adulterated. She had a new white-pine sink put in the kitchen, and poured out some coffee on that. It stained the boards logwood color. She knew now at least one article of adulteration. She looked the men of the commissary well over, and picked out one, an innocent young fellow, that she thought she might surprise into a confession. Waiting her chance, when no one was near, she faced him with the terrible question:—

“Why do you men in the commissary-room put logwood and every other vile stuff in the coffee for our poor sick and wounded men to drink? Have you no conscience? Do you want to kill them?”

The poor boy turned pale, and staggered back as though he would fall, as he stammered,—

“We have to do it; it’s the surgeon’s orders. Indeed, Miss Vance, we can’t help it;” and he[196] dashed away as fast as he could go, to tell the others.

“O boys! Miss Vance knows all about the cheating here, and the logwood and everything in the coffee.”

As they wanted to set themselves right with Miss Vance, the others, as soon as they could, went to her to apologize, and to assure her that it was orders. She assumed not to believe that a surgeon would give such orders, and said she could not believe till she saw the orders. They brought them, and also the surgeon’s instructions for mixing, and various other devices for cheating.

“Now, boys, don’t say a word about this till I can see what I can do.”

Of course I got all these facts as quick as the mail could bring them. I wrote her “to be careful, to make copies of all the papers and records of the false entries in the books, and take these men one by one to a justice of the peace or notary public, and have them swear to everything;” for, if the surgeon should suspect what she was doing, he would at once relieve them, and order them to join their regiments, and she would be left to stand alone. I started for Louisville, Ky., the headquarters of Assistant Surgeon-General R. C. Wood, at once, and requested Miss Vance to send to me there all the papers in the case, which she did.

As I read over the villanous record of cheatery,[197] and the disgusting compounds he had put into the old coffee-grounds for the poor sick and wounded men to drink, my soul was hot within me with righteous indignation. When I went into the office of General Wood the next morning I was in a mood for strong talk. He gave me his usual cordial greeting.

“General Wood, if you please, I would like to see you alone,” I said.

He looked surprised, as I had never made such a request before.

“Certainly,” he said, and nodded to the two or three clerks in the room to withdraw. As soon as the door was closed behind them I began:—

“I came to report Dr. R——, of the Madison Hospital.”

“Dr. R——? Why, he is one of my best surgeons! What has he done?”

“You may think he is one of your best surgeons, but my opinion of him is that he ought to be hung higher than Haman.”

The general looked greatly surprised, as he had never heard me use any such emphatic terms about any one before. “Please, madam, explain,” he said.

“He is cheating and starving the soldiers, and selling their good coffee, and giving them a little coffee mixed with logwood and other vile adulteration.”

“Impossible! That is entirely impossible.”

[198]“Nevertheless, it is true; and he is cheating you in making up his hospital returns. I have the proof here in my hands.”

He turned pale. “Can such a thing be possible?” he gasped.

“It is possible,” I said. “See for yourself;” and I handed him the true returns, with the affidavits.

He brought out the official returns which had been sent by the surgeon, and we compared them.

“He’s a villain, a heartless villain,” the general would mutter at each new exhibition of the surgeon’s rascality.

When we had gone through with the papers, he said in a most emphatic way,—

“I will punish that man to the full extent of the law.”

“No, general: he will elude you; he will find some way to escape. If dealt with by military law he will escape; but I have a plan that will reach him.”

“What is your plan?”

“To go to Governor Morton of Indiana, and lay the facts and these papers before him, and put the whole case in his hands. The hospital is in his State, and I don’t think he can get out of the clutches of Governor Morton.” My words were like the shock of an electric battery. He sprang to his feet, and walked the floor in a most excited[199] state of mind. At last he calmed himself enough to speak, and facing me, he said,—

“Madam, do you wish to kill me? Do you wish to kill me? Do you wish to stab me to the heart?”

“Certainly not. I have the highest respect for you. I believe you are innocent in this matter; but I do not want that villain to escape.”

He shall not escape.

“What will you do?”

“I will send up Inspector Allen right away.”

“No; that won’t do. Inspector Allen has been going up month after month, and has not seen a thing wrong. No; I am sorry to say it, but I do not believe you can bring this man to justice. Governor Morton is my only chance to secure that.”

I shall never forget with what majesty he stood before me. He looked like a patriarch,—tall, straight, commanding, with his crown of gray hair, his fair and kindly face. A perfect Christian gentleman of the old school, too honest and true himself to suspect others as frauds.

“Mrs. Wittenmyer,” he said, “you could not possibly do me a greater injury; such a thing would likely lead to my removal. You certainly do not desire that. Have I not co-operated with you in all your great plans, removing from one hospital to another surgeons at your suggestion? Have I not placed steamers and trains to carry[200] your goods, and extended to you the hearty co-operation and aid of this office? Why should you wish to injure me?”

“I do not wish to injure you. I only want to bring this rogue to justice. You have done all that any one could do for me, and the influence of your high office has helped me all along the lines. I shall ever hold you in grateful remembrance for your kindness and co-operation; but I cannot stand by and see our sick and wounded men treated in this way, and not do my utmost to bring such a rascal to justice.”

“He shall be brought to justice. I will make this proposition to you: I will appoint a commission to investigate, bring charges against and court-martial him, and you may select the commission.”

“But he will resign as soon as he knows they are going to bring charges.”

“I will not accept his resignation.”

And so this plan was agreed to; as over the opposition of the assistant surgeon-general, who had been my ablest helper, I saw it would not do to go, as I wished to do, to Governor Morton.

I selected Dr. Clendening, medical director of that department, as the president of the court. I knew him to be a true gentleman, of sterling integrity, who would do his duty without fear or favor. The others were among the best medical men of the army.

[201]The last I heard of Dr. Clendening he was in the regular army, and stationed at St. Louis. I think he is still living, as are most of those who are familiar with the facts here recorded. The commission received the documents, went to Madison, and verified all Miss Vance’s statements, and sat down together to formulate the charges. But as soon as the committee came on the ground, Surgeon R—— telegraphed his resignation to Surgeon-General Barnes at Washington. It was accepted by telegraph, and he was on a train far away. The commission was greatly disappointed, and General Wood was very much humiliated over the affair. Shortly afterwards, returning to Washington, I spoke to the surgeon-general about the case, and gave him my views about Dr. R——’s rascality. But the hospital was soon cleaned up; the old coffee-grounds and logwood were dumped out upon the “common,” and good food and plenty of it was served to the men.

I was not known to Dr. R—— in the case; but Dr. Clendening and the other members of the commission, and Miss Vance, will know how the reform was brought about. I do not give the full name of the surgeon, as he may have repented in sackcloth and ashes for aught I know; but there is little danger of my forgetting his name. Miss Vance is now living in California.



ONE of the strongest evidences of General Grant’s nobility of character was his respectful treatment of the men in the ranks. They were all men, and were treated as men. He did not toady to the officers, or bully the privates. His attitude to all was respectful and considerate.

He was more approachable to the men in the ranks than were many of his inferior officers.

An ambulance driver at City Point told me this story:—

“The road was narrow, and I was allowing the horses to jog on at a slow pace, when an officer rode up and said, ‘Drive your ambulance to one side, please, and allow my staff to pass.’

“I was paralyzed when I looked up and saw it was General Grant who was talking to me so nice and polite. I looked back and saw a lot of officers coming, and you may be sure I got out of their way as quick as I could. Most officers would have sworn a blue streak because I was in the road, but that isn’t General Grant’s way; he is a mighty nice man.”

[203]I had occasion to call at an officer’s headquarters to report that there were supplies at the landing for his regiment. He was very much pleased that I had taken the trouble to call on him personally, as he was from my own State. As we sat in his tent talking socially, a private soldier came to the tent-door, made the military salute, and was about to speak, when the colonel thundered his words of command:—

“Begone; what business have you coming to my headquarters?”

“The lieutenant sent me to”—

“Begone, I tell you.”

The soldier turned away deeply humiliated, and no doubt indignant. I, as indignant as the soldier, arose, and without ceremony left the tent. I have never thought of that officer since, that I did not want to go back to that lost opportunity, and tell him how mean and ignoble he was.



NEARLY every day during the siege of Vicksburg, General Grant rode around the fiery line of the besieged city on his little black horse; and his son Fred, about thirteen years old, who acted as his orderly, followed about fifty yards in the rear.

It was a wild ride over the rough, roadless fields and bluffs in the rear of our batteries, where the enemy’s guns were ploughing the ground here and there, over which they were riding.

Almost every day, as I drove about the lines, at some point or other I would see General Grant and his brave little orderly riding at full speed in the face of the long lines of the enemy’s batteries, and within range of their murderous fire. But most of all to be feared was the surer fire of the Confederate sharpshooters.

They were never within speaking distance, being much nearer the batteries than was the roadway along which I drove.

There was great anxiety for General Grant[205] during the siege. Personally he was beloved by officers and men, but there were deeper reasons. His life was so important to the Union cause, that his death would have been the greatest calamity that the army could have suffered. Officers and civilians warned and entreated him, but as far as I could see he made no change in his course.

Fred Grant shared his father’s dangers; and although he was one of the nicest boys I ever saw, few knew his real merits and bravery. Like his distinguished father, he was free from bombast, and was quiet and reserved, so his heroic services during the siege were not paraded before the public, as the deeds of many who did not show half the courage he did.

We did not meet very often; but when we did, I always had some kindly words and an approving smile for him. It was fortunate that his devoted mother was not there at that time to see his danger as he went out under the guns daily.

Her anxiety would have been unbearable, as she was a most devoted wife and mother, and the dangers were appalling.

Fred D. Grant ought in some marked way to receive public honor for his wonderful heroism at Vicksburg.



ONE of the many sad incidents of the battle of Gettysburg was the tragic death of Jennie Wade. The family remained in their house, as they could not well leave a married daughter lying on her bed with a new-born infant by her side. Jennie and her mother remained with her, as there seemed to be no way of removing Mrs. McClelland and her baby to a place of safety when the coming of the two armies disturbed the quiet of the quaint old Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Amid the clash of arms, when the boom of cannon shook the rock-rimmed hills and echoed among the mountains, and the shock of battle sent a throb of agony along the lines of two armies, they were there in the midst of it all. Mrs. McClelland lay there helpless amid its thunders, while Jennie made bread for the soldiers who crawled to the door begging for something to eat.

A shell came crashing through the house, and cut off one of the posts of the bedstead on which Mrs. McClelland and her infant were lying, but neither was injured.

[207]The mother and sister took a big rocking-chair down into the cellar, and carried her down and placed her in it with her baby, and Jennie went on making bread for the famishing soldiers.

Another shell came screaming into the house; and Jennie, with her hands just out of the dough, lay dead. The mother, bending over her, searched in vain for some token of life, but the pulse had ceased to beat; her loyal heart was forever still.

The battle was now raging in all its wild fury; but the heroic mother, instead of flying to the cellar for safety, took up Jennie’s work, and with Jennie lying dead at her feet, went on with the bread-making till the battle closed.

Jennie Wade had always been planning for her burial. A complete burial-suit was in the house. But after the battle was over, the safety of the army made it imperative that the dead, lying bloated on the battle-field under a scorching July sun, should be buried at once. A squad of stalwart men, grim with the dust and smoke of battle, took Jennie Wade up tenderly, wrapped a flag about her, completely covering her soiled calico gown and her hands all covered with dough, and carried her uncoffined to her grave. But many a soldier who was fed at her hands, and all who have heard the pathetic story, will pause where Jennie Wade lies sleeping to pay her the honor due a heroine of the war.

The mother still lives in Gettysburg; but the[208] surviving daughter, Mrs. McClelland, with her soldier husband, who was on another battle-field at the time of her peril at Gettysburg, is now living near Tacoma, Wash. She has from the first been an active and valuable worker of the Woman’s Relief Corps.



WHEN the Union army was massed at City Point in the desperate struggle to capture Petersburg and Richmond, it became necessary to establish a large hospital at Point of Rocks, a few miles above City Point.

Log cabins, put up from timber green from the forest, and tents, served as quarters for the sick and wounded; and three or four thousand of the worst cases were quartered there almost immediately, being soon increased to five thousand. The army operating against Richmond was only a few miles away, and the thunder of their guns could be heard all day long, and the night sky was often illuminated by bursting shells; for two armies were facing each other between Point of Rocks and Richmond, and occasionally a shell would come screaming over to remind us that we were in range of the enemy’s guns. The cooking arrangements, when I reached Point of Rocks, were of the most primitive character. Two log cabins without floors or chimneys, with openings in the[210] roof to allow the smoke to escape, and big kettles hanging over smoking, crackling log fires, were used for cooking purposes. There were great black iron kettles for coffee, tea, soups, meat, beans, and rice.

When I saw the messes served to the sick and wounded men in the wards, as each cabin was called, I did not wonder that the men turned away in disgust.

The tin cups, in which the patients received their tea and coffee, were black and battered; the platters had been used in many a march, and were rusty and greasy. Into each one of these platters was dished out rice, beans, or mixed vegetables, as the men preferred. My mental comment was, “There is not one thing here fit for a well man to eat, much less a sick or wounded man.” The surgeon in charge seemed not to know that things were not up to the proper standard; and I was silent—silent till I was out of the hearing of these men, and until I had a chance to say all that was in my heart to say. The office of the surgeon in charge was in a frame dwelling on the grounds. When I had seated myself in his office, he turned suddenly upon me and questioned, “Well, what do you think of my hospital?”

“Perhaps you would not like to hear; you may wish only flattery,” I answered very kindly.

“Yes; I want to know the truth. If you see anything that can be improved just say so frankly;[211] but you must remember we are under the enemy’s guns, and can’t have the conveniences and luxuries that they have in the big cities.”

“I will not suggest anything that cannot be accomplished here within a week, and yet it would be a great change for the men. I would begin with the kitchen. I would build a kitchen with a chimney; there are plenty of rocks here.”

“Yes, that is so.”

“Then, I would have a floor in it, and two of the largest ranges the market affords.”

“That is impossible; the government would not supply ranges.”

“I will supply the ranges. The Christian Commission is ready at an hour’s notice to honor any order that I am likely to give.”

“The men couldn’t manage them.”

“No, perhaps not; but I would put in two first-class women to do the managing, and the men you have could do the work.”

After very much more talk, he suggested that I might make the attempt.

I wrote immediately to George H. Stuart of Philadelphia, President of the Christian Commission, stating the condition of affairs at the Point of Rocks Hospital, requesting lumber for kitchen, lime for chimney, two first-class ranges, a thousand tin cups and platters, and all the necessary supplies to start a kitchen.

My letter was promptly received, and Mr. Stuart answered by telegram:—

[212]“Everything ordered will be sent this afternoon. Also crates of dishes. Go ahead. You shall have all you need.”

I had already telegraphed to Mrs. E. W. Jones, one of my most reliable workers, to come to me immediately, and Miss Hattie Noyes, another superior worker.

They both came as fast as steam could bring them, reaching there before the kitchen was completed. A cabin had been prepared for them; but as shingles were not at hand, it was covered with canvas. As the ladies were entirely competent to complete the arrangements, I left them for another point. In less than a week a most remarkable change had been wrought in that hospital. When the first meals were issued from that well-regulated kitchen in the nice white dishes and bright tinware, the sick men, many of them, cried and kissed the dishes, and said it seemed most like getting home. Instead of the slops dished out of vessels that looked like swill-buckets, there came to the beds of the very sick and severely wounded, baked potatoes, baked apples, beef-tea, broiled beefsteak (when allowed), and especially to the wounded, toasts, jellies, good soup, and everything in the best home-like preparation.

The surgeon looked on in utter surprise. But the patients fared better than my heroic women. There came a beating, driving rain, and their canvas roof leaked like a sieve. They wrapped rubber blankets about their clothing, put rubber[213] blankets on their bed, raised their umbrellas, and slept. Of this trial Mrs. Jones wrote me. I quote from her letter:—

“This has been a trying day. All night and all day the rain has come down in torrents in our quarters and the kitchen, as well as out-of-doors. Quarts of water ran off our bed while we slept. Almost everything had to be dried, even to bed and bedding, and in the kitchen it was even worse. But to-night finds us in good spirits, and our zeal undampened, though our work has been most thoroughly soaked.

E. W. J.”

The putting on of new roofs was only a question of a day or two, and they had no more trouble from rain after that.

This hospital became so large that another kitchen had to be established, and three other ladies were added to the force.

These kitchens were the most important in the entire service, except, possibly, the great kitchen at Cumberland Hospital, Nashville, Tenn. The fame of the cookery there extended all along the line. Surgeons came long distances to see for themselves if the reports were true about them. To many it seemed incredible that the cooking for the very sick could be so well managed right along the front lines in these field hospitals.

At my request. General Grant, commanding the United States forces with headquarters at City Point, visited these famous kitchens.

Himself and two of his staff went in disguise.

[214]With his slouch hat drawn down, and coming in citizen’s clothing, no one noticed him. They stood by the door of the largest kitchen, while the dinner was issued. He asked, when the food had been sent out, a few questions and looked at the bill of fare, then followed to the wards to see the patients receive it.

He said, when I next came down from Washington and called at headquarters, that he thought it was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen. He was unusually enthusiastic.

“Why,” said he, “those men live better than I do; and so many of them too. How they manage to cook such a variety for so many hundreds is what puzzles me.”

Then he told me about his going through the wards while they were taking their dinner, and noticing how greatly they enjoyed the food. And when told THAT THE MOST OF THIS FOOD CAME FROM THE COMMUTATION OF GOVERNMENT RATIONS, he was still more surprised.

When he was passing through one of the wards, a convalescing soldier, taking him to be a delegate of the Christian Commission, called out, “Say, Christian, won’t you bring me a pair of socks?”

“I’ll see that you get a pair,” the general responded, and passed out; but he arranged to have the man get a pair of socks.

But where are the noble women who labored there with so much energy and zeal years ago?

[215]Mrs. Jones, a most saintly woman, the widow of a Presbyterian minister, sits serene in the evening of life—her work done and well-done—at Wellesley, Mass., where her daughter is the attending physician of the college.

All the years of her life have been given to benevolent and reform work, and now she waits and listens for the heavenly voice and the rustle of the angel’s wings.

Miss Noyes is in Canton, China, where she has been in mission work ever since the close of the war. A few years ago a beautiful poem written by her, entitled, “Toiling All Night,” was extensively published in this country. She has several times returned on a visit to her native land, and was, when she came to us, the same bright, cheerful, earnest-hearted woman, as when, amid the thunders of battle, she ministered to the sick and wounded soldiers of the Republic.

Fortune has not dealt generously with some of the others who labored there. One, a competent worker, is now poor. She lives in Illinois.

Another married and settled on a land claim. Her husband died from overwork and exposure, leaving her in the wilderness, without help to bury him, for days. After he was laid away, she struggled on, determined to hold the claim; but a fearful snowstorm one winter came, and buried her and her two little girls under the snow, till the top of the house was level with the plain.

[216]They remained buried for many days before being dug out. Some men thought about her, and travelled miles to ascertain if she was all right.

They searched long before they could find her shanty, and when they did, had to dig tons of snow away before they could get her out. She now lives in Colorado.

These years have wrought great changes; but all the workers will look back, no matter how bright or how dark the hours that may come to them, with great satisfaction on their heroic work at Point of Rocks, Va.



IN the fall of 1864, when the Union army was massing against Richmond, Va., the hospitals in and around Washington were very much overcrowded.

Under special orders from Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, and with the hearty co-operation of President Lincoln, I had previously assumed the general supervision of the special-diet kitchens of the United States army hospitals all along the lines.

It also devolved upon me to select the lady superintendents for that important service, two for each kitchen. The food for the very sick and the severely wounded, on orders of the ward surgeons, was prepared under their supervision.

In some of these special-diet kitchens as many as 1,000, and in some 1,500 patients, were supplied with carefully prepared food in great variety three times a day.

It will be readily seen that competent women were needed to take the management of this important[218] work. They had not only to command a force of twenty or thirty men in these kitchens, and maintain discipline and good order, but they had, under hospital authority, the entire responsibility of supplying the proper preparation of food, on time and without the least delay or confusion.

Their high position also demanded that they should be ladies of culture and social standing, who could command the respect and confidence of officers and surgeons in charge. It is greatly to the honor of the patriotic women of the North, that scores of accomplished ladies of high social position volunteered to fill these important places.

Great care had to be taken in their selection, and none were accepted unless highly indorsed.

One day there came to my headquarters in Washington a young lady from Pawtucket, R.I. She was twenty-two years old, as I afterwards learned; but she was so childlike in appearance that she seemed much younger.

“I am Lizzie B——,” she said by way of introduction. “I was ready and waiting, and just as soon as I received your letter containing pass and orders to come, I started.”

My heart sank within me. I was expecting Lizzie B——, but I had anticipated meeting a very different-looking person.

Every letter of recommendation had said: “Although Miss B—— is young in years, she is mature in character, and is of the highest type of[219] American womanhood, and will command respect anywhere. We commend her to you as one of our noblest women, who will be equal to any position, and one who will never fail nor falter in the line of duty.”

I had naturally expected a woman of stately and commanding presence, and one who would be equal to any emergency; but she seemed to me to be only a child in years and experience.

“I have ordered up my baggage,” she said with childlike simplicity, “and I have brought my little melodeon with me. I thought it might be useful.”

Sure enough, when her luggage came, and the box containing the instrument was opened, she took out the smallest melodeon I ever saw.

“What shall I do with that dear little child from Rhode Island and her little melodeon?” I said to my secretary, Mary Shelton, now Mrs. Judge Houston of Burlington, Iowa. But she could not solve the problem.

When the heavy work of the day was through, weary and full of care and anxiety, we joined Miss B—— in the parlor. After some conversation, she said,—

“Would you like to have me play and sing?”

We assented, and she sat down at the instrument and began to play and sing.

We were amazed and charmed. It seemed as though the curtains of heaven were lifted, and the songs of an angel were floating down upon us.

[220]The tones of the little melodeon were soft and clear, and the voice of the singer was sweet and remarkably sympathetic. Her notes thrilled one; there was life and spirit in them. After listening to her for an hour or more, weariness and anxiety were gone, and I knew just what to do with Lizzie B——.

There were tens of thousands of aching and burdened hearts all about us; and she, with her wonderful gift of song, could lift some drooping spirit, and pour the balm of peace into some wounded, fainting hearts. I took her and her melodeon to Campbell Hospital the next morning, and told her to sing as she had opportunity.

The sick and wounded were quartered in great wooden barracks eighty feet long. There were rows of cots on either side of the room. That very day she went into one of these wards. She had never been in a hospital before; and when she entered and saw the long rows of cots, and all the faces of the men, whether they were lying down or sitting up, turned towards her, she grew faint and dizzy, and her courage almost failed her. She seemed powerless to do anything but to walk on down the long aisle.

At last a soldier called to her from his bed,—

“Say, miss, won’t you write a letter for me?”

It was a great relief to have the oppressive silence broken and to have something to do. As she sat down beside his cot, she asked,—

[221]“To whom shall I write?”

“My mother.”

And he thrust his hand down under his pillow, and drew forth a letter which she read with tears.

“What shall I say to her?”

“Tell her that the surgeons think that I may live a week or two yet.”

“Oh! but you may get well.”

“No; I can never recover. I have a fatal disease.”

“Shall I ask your mother to come to you?”

“No; she cannot come. She is too poor, and she can’t leave the younger children; but she is praying for me.”

“Would you like to have me to pray for you?”

“Yes, miss, if you will.”

Lizzie B—— took one of his thin, cold hands in her own and knelt beside his cot, and offered up one of those low, sweet, sympathetic prayers that come from the heart and ascend straight to the throne of mercy.

When she arose, every man who could leave his bed was standing about the cot, and many were wiping away the tears they could not restrain.

“Would you like to have me sing something?” she questioned, looking kindly into their faces.

“Oh! do—please do,” they all urged; and she sang one of the sweet songs of the gospel that she could sing so well.

Of course they were all delighted, and begged that she would come again.

[222]“I have a melodeon,” she said, as she left them; “and I’ll come to-morrow and have that brought into the ward, if the surgeon says I may.”

As they looked wistfully after her, one of the soldiers, wiping the tears from his eyes, said,—

“She looks like a woman, but she sings like an angel.”

The next day the little melodeon was carried into that ward, and Lizzie B—— sang for them, and the surgeon in charge was one of the auditors. He was so delighted with the influence of her singing, that he gave orders that she be allowed to sing in all the wards of that hospital.

From that time on, she devoted her time to the service of song, till all the hundreds in that hospital had been cheered again and again by her tender words and sweet, sympathetic voice.

The effects of her singing were so uplifting and comforting that I extended her field, and had an ambulance placed at her command that she might visit other hospitals. After that she made the rounds among the hospitals at Washington, going day by day from one hospital to another. Everywhere her coming was hailed with joy. Mothers and wives who were watching hopelessly beside their dying ones were lifted in heart and hope towards God and heaven. Men who had been strong in battle to do and to dare, but who now lay sorely wounded and weak, and heart and flesh well-nigh failing them, were lifted on billows of[223] hope and faith and felt strong to live and to do, or to suffer and die.

Thousands were cheered and saved from despair by this wonderful singer of the hospitals.

I found her afterwards in other work, equal to the management of large interests. She could have taken charge of a special-diet kitchen, but I have always thanked God that her time was given instead to songs in the hospitals. She has changed her name since then. She is now the wife of a Congregational minister; but her voice still holds, by its sweet, sympathetic cadences, the listening congregations.



LITTLE SADIE BUSHMAN, who was not quite ten years old at the time of the battle of Gettysburg, proved herself a little heroine. Mr. and Mrs. Bushman, learning that the battle would rage in all probability on or near their premises, sent this child with her brother to her grandmother’s, two miles away, while the parents gathered up the other children and undertook to follow.

Sadie took hold of her brother’s hand, and they hurried on as fast as their feet could carry them. But it was not long before their pathway led them into the thick of the fight along Seminary Ridge. The roar of the artillery was continuous, but they could not retreat. There came a blinding flash and a deafening roar. A shell whizzed past them. A gray-haired officer seized the children, and hurried them down the ridge toward their destination.

But scarcely less danger awaited them there, as their grandmother’s house and yard was converted into a hospital. The first work of the child when she reached this place was to hold a[225] cup of water to a soldier’s lips while one of his legs was sawed off.

She was separated from her parents two weeks before they knew she was alive, but all that time she was ministering to the wounded soldiers. She carried soup and broth, and fed those who could not help themselves. She worked under the orders of the surgeons, and was furnished with supplies by the Christian Commission as long as the hospitals were kept open in Gettysburg. She is now a married woman—Sadie Bushman Junkerman—and lives near Oakland, Cal.; but the scenes of the Gettysburg battle years ago are vividly remembered by her.



AFTER the fall of Richmond it was found that the people were in a very destitute condition, many of them being almost in a state of starvation.

Every agency was at once used to furnish them with food.

The government issued rations as they came in, and the Sanitary and Christian Commissions distributed large supplies.

Among those who assisted in distributing the supplies of the Christian Commission was the Rev. John O. Foster, now living in Chicago, Ill.

Each day the supplies would be issued according to the amount on hand and the number standing in line.

Slowly the procession would march up with baskets to get what was offered; black and white, rich and poor, old and young, all fared and shared alike.

One evening after the issue had been made and the room cleared, an old colored man, who had been sitting off in one corner on a box, arose and[227] shuffled along towards Mr. Foster. Taking off his old torn hat he made a low bow.

“Why, you’re too late; why didn’t you come up when the others did?”

“No, massa, I izent. Ben’s done gone and got my rashuns. I’se cum har on bizness.”

“Well, what can I do for you?”

“I’ze mos’ ’shamed to tell you, Capt’n,” and he put his old hat to his face and chuckled heartily. Then continued, “You see, Capt’n, day’s sellin’ lot uv guv’ment mules cheap, mighty cheap, mos’ as cheap as dirt, and I cud make a fortin if I could buy one; day’s sellin’ for twenty dollars, massa—but’ful guv’ment mules.” Then there was an awkward pause.


“I thot mebbe you’d len’ me de money.”

Foster laughed heartily.

“How would you ever pay me back?”

“By haulin’; dar’s a big speculation in it; make a fortin right off.”

“Where will you get a wagon?”

“Oh, I’ze got a wagin; one ole massa throde away and I mended up. An’ I’ze got ropes and ebery ting ’cept de mule; dat’s all I want now.”

“You think you will pay me back?”

“Sartin, massa. If I don’t pay, I guvs up de mule.”

Again Mr. Foster laughed at the thought of that mule coming back on his hands.

[228]“Well, I think you ought to have the mule now,” was Foster’s generous reply; “and here is twenty dollars to buy one, but you must pay it back,” and he handed him a ten-dollar and two five-dollar bills.

“My Lor, massa! Neber had so much money ’fore in all my life. If I dun fail to pay it back, de mule’s yourn, sure.”

“Now, don’t allow yourself to be robbed or cheated out of it.”

“No, massa; I hain’t goin’ to let nobody know I’ze got nuthin’ till I git hole on de mule.”

Two days passed, and he saw nothing of the colored man. On the evening of the third day the colored man came in late, and took a seat in the corner on a box. But after all had left the room he came close up to Foster with his hand on his pocket.

“Well, did you get the mule?”

“Yes, massa; I got de most beautifullest mule dat you ever seed—de bes’ kind uv government mule.” Then he took from his pocket two clean, crisp five-dollar bills, and handed them to Mr. Foster. “’Fore Sat’day night I gwine to pay all, I ’spects; I’ze doin’ a busten bus’ness.”

The next Saturday evening the colored man was there; and as soon as the room was cleared he came forward, and, making sure that no one else would see, he took out quite a roll of bills, and from them selected a clean, crisp ten-dollar bill and handed it to Mr. Foster.

[229]“How in the world did you make so much money?”

“I tole you, massa, der war a speculashun in it, an’ der war. Me and de mule and Ben arned ev’ry dollah. He’s the beautifullest mule you ever seed. Ben brung him round so as you could see ’em.”

Mr. Foster went to the door. There, sure enough, stood a good, strong mule, as docile, as quiet and sedate, as though he had not hauled the artillery into the fight, and stood near the big guns amid the thunders of battle; for Ben said, with great pride,—

“Dis mule is one uv dem best mules dat pulled de big guns ober de hills. Oh, he’s an awful strong hos!”

Little Ben sat on a board placed as a seat at the front of the wagon, his white, even teeth showing from ear to ear, and his eyes sparkling with gladness. Ben managed to buy a lot on a back alley and build himself a shanty and a little stable for the government mule.

Judging from his thrift, he is, no doubt, if alive, one of the wealthy colored men of Richmond now.



A LITTLE company of my best workers were sent to Wilmington, N.C., in charge of my secretary, Mary Shelton, in the spring of 1865, to care for the sick being gathered there, and the half-starved prisoners being sent in for exchange.

The dangers and hardships of the journey were very great; but after many delays they finally reached there and were able to render valuable service.

Among these chosen workers was Amanda Shelton, now Mrs. Stewart of Mount Pleasant, Ia., who, strong of body and courageous of soul, was untiring in her ministrations. One day, as she walked among the hundreds of the sick and half-starved men, ministering to them as best she could, the surgeon of the ward called her attention to a soldier who lay as one dead.

“That man,” he said, “is starving to death. We can’t get him to eat anything. If you can tempt him to eat he may possibly recover.”

Miss Shelton went to the soldier, and tried to[231] get his attention; but he lay with closed eyes, in seeming indifference. She tried to tempt him by mentioning every delicacy she could think of; but he shook his head and moaned impatiently.

As she remained standing beside his cot, trying to think of something else, he opened his eyes, and, looking her earnestly in the face, asked in pitiful, appealing tones,—

“Say, miss, don’t you think you could get me a raw onion and some salt?”

“Yes, I think I can,” she answered, and hastened away to try to find some onions.

Fortunately, a lot of supplies had just come in, and a sack of onions was among the goods received.

She hastened back with an onion in her hand and a cup of salt. He seized the onion eagerly, and began eating it as one would eat an apple or a peach, dipping it in the salt cup each time as he ate greedily.

The onion and salt was the balm of life to him; and from that time he began to amend, and was soon able to be about the ward and eat everything the surgeons would allow him to.

“Oh, that onion did the business for me! If I ever get home I will raise a big lot of them,” he said.

Shortly afterwards he was shipped North, and as the war soon afterwards closed, no doubt he reached his home safely.



THE Mississippi River was very much swollen in the spring of 1863, and a bayou near Helena offered a possible channel in the direction of Vicksburg. It was broad and deep enough to admit the passage of steamers and gunboats, but too narrow for a boat to turn around.

A fleet of steamers, bearing a well-chosen force, and accompanied by gunboats, was sent down this bayou. The fleet of boats had not gone far till the way was found blockaded. Large trees had been cut down, so that in falling they bridged the narrow stream from shore to shore. But determined men can overcome almost any obstacle.

They did not stop to cut the trees to pieces, but loosened them from the stumps, attached ropes and chains to them, and with their hands, by main force, pulled them out onto the dry land. Overhanging branches had to be cut away, and yet all the outworks of the boats were torn to pieces. Finding that this channel of approach was impracticable, a retrograde movement was[233] made. There was but one way to get the boats out, and that was to back out stern foremost.

But while they were pushing on, the enemy had been felling the trees behind them, and the same hard work of pulling them out by human hands became necessary; and it was done.

It was my privilege to see the fleet of boats as it came in to join the force opposite Vicksburg, and a more dilapidated, ragged-looking lot of boats and men was never seen on the earth.

They looked as though they had been through a dozen battles. Little was left of the boats but the substantial framework. The flags hung in tatters; the smoke-stacks had been carried away; the pilot-houses torn to pieces; the guards and outworks were gone; the wheel-houses torn away, and the broken wheels left bare.

As heroes returning from battle, the soldiers of that expedition were welcomed by hearty cheers, as boat after boat came in, by their comrades. One boat, the first to enter the bayou, was the last to come in, and arrived about ten o’clock at night.

The landing was made alongside our Sanitary boat, where the agents and workers of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions were quartered. There were a number of ladies there; and their sympathies were deeply moved, that men who had been out on such hard service should be marched out through the rain and mud at so late an hour to make their camp.

[234]“Why can they not stay under shelter where they are till morning?” was the indignant question that passed from lip to lip, as we stood out on the guards looking down upon them.

By the flambeau that burned with a weird, lurid light, we could dimly see them fall into line and march away, with their knapsacks on their backs and their guns in their hands. But they were a jolly set; and as they plunged into the mud, which was nearly knee-deep, some wag among them cried out, in imitation of boatmen taking the depth of the channel, “No bottom! no bottom!” Every soldier seemed to instantly join in the chorus; and “No bottom! no bottom!” rang out from hundreds of throats, which was soon varied to “No chickens!” “No coffee!” “No ’taters!” as they plunged on in the darkness.

Of course such conduct was not consistent with military dignity, and so the colonel tried to stop them. But the noise was so loud that he failed at first to make himself heard.

“Halt!” he cried in thunder tones.

Immediately there was entire quiet; every man stood still just where he was to hear what his commanding officer had to say; not a foot moved.

“Soldiers, you forget yourselves,” said the colonel. “I know it is raining, and the mud is deep, and the fare and the work have been hard; but you are in the midst of a great army, the commanding general’s quarters are near; what will be[235] thought of such noise and confusion? You misrepresent yourselves; we will march quietly to camp. Forward, march!”

Not a passionate or profane word was spoken. We were all curious to know who the officer was who could command himself as well as his men.

The next day I was at General Grant’s quarters; and I inquired as to who the officer was, and told the story.

“I do not know him,” I said earnestly, “but I am sure he ought to be promoted. A man who can govern himself as he did last night ought to wear a general’s shoulder-straps.”

“That was Colonel Legget. He is a good man, and a very fine officer,” was the general’s reply.

“Do you know, General, that there is a great deal of profanity among the officers and men?”

“Yes, I know; I am sorry that it is so.”

“I am glad to hear you say that you are sorry.”

“I never swear.”

“Indeed! It is encouraging to hear a man of your influence say that. I am glad you have so much moral principle.”

“It is not moral principle,” he answered quickly. “I never contracted the habit of profanity. I should not utter an oath if I knew what I was about; and, not having the habit, I would not likely do so unconsciously. Profanity does not comport with the dignity of the military service.”

“No; nor with Christianity, which lifts a higher[236] standard. I wish you could have said that Christian principles furnished an added restraint.”

“I believe in the Christian system, and have great respect for Christian people. They are doing a grand work in the army; but I am not a Christian as you understand it.”

“I wish you were. You walk amid dangers, and many of us feel anxious about you—many prayers go up for your safety. I would feel that you were safer for both worlds if you were a Christian.”

“I would like to be a Christian.”

Just then General Rawlins, one of the grandest men of the war, who was his chief of staff, came forward with some documents for examination, and the close conversation was interrupted, and I took my leave. I am glad to know that afterward he professed faith in the Divine Redeemer.



A. M. SHIPMAN, an Ohio volunteer, who was confined for eight months as a hostage, was in Vicksburg jail during the siege, and was released when Pemberton surrendered.

For a time he had a fellow-prisoner named John B. Marsh, who had been forced into the Rebel army. Marsh made an attempt to join the Union forces, but was recaptured, and condemned to be shot. Just before his execution he managed to get the following note into Mr. Shipman’s hands:—

Kind Friend,—If ever you reach our happy lines, have this put in the Northern papers, that my father, the Rev. Leonard Marsh, who lives in Maine, may know what has become of me, and what I was shot for. I am to be shot for defending my country. I love her, and am willing to die for her. Tell my parents that I am also happy in the Lord. My future is bright. I hope to speak to you as I pass out to die.”

One of the guards told Mr. Shipman afterward, that when young Marsh was placed in position ready to receive the fire of his executioners, he[238] was told he could speak if he desired to do so. Looking calmly upon the crowd for a moment, he shouted out in strong, clear tones, “Three cheers for the old flag and the Union!” There was no response to his patriotic sentiment. He paused for a moment, and then shouted at the top of his voice, “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” A volley of musketry struck him in the breast, and stopped the beating of his brave, loyal heart.



I  WAS personally acquainted with President Lincoln, and sat talking with him in his public office when the telegram was brought in announcing General Sheridan’s second victory in the Shenandoah Valley, which resulted in the defeat of General Early.

When the messenger came in, Mr. Lincoln was talking very earnestly; and although he laid down the telegram with the announcement, “An important telegram, Mr. President,” Mr. Lincoln took no notice of it.

The messenger went as far as the door of the room, and seeing that Mr. Lincoln had not taken up the telegram he returned, and laying it a little nearer to him on the desk, repeated,—

“An important telegram, Mr. President.”

But as the president kept on talking, and took no notice of it, the messenger retired.

He was at that time talking of the sanitary condition of the army; the relation of food to[240] health, and the influence of the special-diet kitchen system in restoring the soldiers to health, and its effect in lessening the number of furloughs.

I, too, talked earnestly; as, while pushing the work of the special-diet kitchens, I believed most heartily in furloughs.

But earnest as I was, I was exceedingly anxious to know the contents of that telegram.

There was during that interview, that far away look in his eyes, that those seeing could never forget.

At last he paused and took up the despatch, and after looking over it read it aloud.

“This is good news indeed,” he said, and a smile lit up his rugged features as he went on with his comments.

“This Sheridan,” he said, “is a little Irishman, but he is a big fighter.”

Soon after I arose to take my leave. He, too, arose and stood like a giant before me, as he extended his hand, and said, “Well, success to you. Come in again.”

I did not realize his greatness at that time, but now all the world knows that Abraham Lincoln will stand out a colossal figure as long as American history is read. A thousand years will not dim the lustre of his name or fame.

When his armies were pushed back till they built their camp-fires under the shadow of the[241] nation’s Capitol, and treason glared at him from the near palaces, and the ship of state rocked in the trough of the waves of civil war and social revolution, he stood firm and strong at the helm, with calm, unwavering trust in God. In a rougher mould, he possessed the majesty of a Clay, the sagacity of a Franklin, the wit of a Ben Jonson, the benevolence of a Howard, and the social qualities of the Adamses. No heart in all the land throbbed with a truer, kindlier charity towards all, than did the great heart of Abraham Lincoln when the assassin’s bullet stopped its generous beating. Among philanthropists, in all ages, Lincoln will stand out as The Great Emancipator, who brought liberty to an enslaved and cruelly wronged race; and Right will laurel-crown him as a martyr.

No one bullet ever went forth on a deadlier mission, or struck so heavy a blow to friends and foes alike, as did the bullet that laid Abraham Lincoln low in the dust.

Victor and vanquished, who had come up out of a great struggle with their garments rolled in blood to ground their arms at his feet, and who had received his benediction of peace and good-will to all, were alike mourners when the assassin’s bullet did its deadly work.

It was as though there was one dead in every house. The mourners went about the streets uncomforted. Men forgot their love for gold and[242] their lust for power; statesmen groped about like blind men for some hand to lead. The world was in mourning; for all the world knew that he had come to the kingdom for such a time as that.

The lives of such men as Abraham Lincoln are measured by deeds, and not by length of days. His work was wrought in a few short years. He answered the question of the wisdom and solidity of a republican form of government by hurling its betrayers from power. He established human liberty on the immutable rock of intelligent public sentiment. When he proclaimed above the sleeping heroes of Gettysburg, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he sounded forth an endless jubilee that has echoed and re-echoed through the world, till the people of every kindred and tongue have heard the glad tidings, and human slavery has been branded as a crime, and outlawed by all the civilized nations of the earth.

The saviour of his people, the liberator of the oppressed, the great-hearted friend of humanity, he will stand out a colossal figure in history while men love liberty more than life, while men love freedom more than chains, and while human sympathy links us to each other and draws us toward God and heaven.

It seems fitting, as there was not one of all the millions who loved him, and who would have shielded him at any cost, but knew not of his[243] peril, that the flag he loved should have become his avenger, and caught the foot of the assassin in its loyal folds, and hurled him away to certain death. That flag, kept securely in a glass case, is held sacred in the treasure-house of the nation. The swift-footed years have gone by, till twenty-nine have passed; but Lincoln is not forgotten: his memory is as fresh and sweet as it was at the first.

The robins come to build their nests, and the bluebirds sing their sweet spring songs, just as they did twenty-nine years ago this April-time; but he is not forgotten, for his work goes on. The flag that Lincoln upheld is the banner honored of all nations, the principles he sustained and taught are more and more becoming the heritage of the world, and will be universal.



A FEW days after the first fleet ran the blockade at Vicksburg, another fleet, composed entirely of wooden steamers, ran through that fiery channel.

The plans of the government coming to my knowledge, I sent a note to the medical director, offering to ship a lot of hospital supplies, and asking him to designate the boat on which I should ship them. My note came back indorsed,—

“Send supplies down on the Tigress.”

I still have that letter on file.

The Tigress was a trim, stanch little craft which General Grant had used for headquarters. And feeling sure the swift, trim little steamer would make the passage safely, I shipped a heavy lot of supplies on her.

There were six wooden steamers, with barges in tow, laden with army supplies.

On the night of the 26th of April, 1863, they ran the blockade.

All the important machinery was protected by bales of cotton and bales of hay.

[245]All the boats got through safely, except the Tigress.

In the midst of the fiery channel a solid shot cut through the heavy gunwales of the barge she was towing, and went through her hull, just below the water-level. Her crew deserted her, and made their escape in the small boats which were there for that purpose.

She filled with water so slowly that she drifted down into the Union lines before she sank, sinking near the shore on the Louisiana side of the river.

Two days afterwards I received a letter from an Iowa colonel, whose name I have forgotten, whose regiment was in camp opposite where the Tigress sank, informing me that the men of his command were willing to wade out neck-deep and secure the cotton about the engine of the Tigress, if the commanding general would give it to me for sanitary purposes; and that as he was coming up to Young’s Point with empty wagons for supplies, he would gladly deliver it there.

I was very much perplexed as to what I had best do, but finally sent the colonel’s letter to General Grant, who had gone below Vicksburg with his army, with a brief letter, saying that “If the granting of this request is entirely consistent with your sense of honor, and the best interest of yourself and of the government, I would be glad to receive the cotton, as I shipped a heavy lot of[246] supplies on the Tigress, and they have all been lost.”

As soon as my letter was received, the order was issued, and sent up by a special messenger. I sent it immediately to that generous Iowa colonel, with a most kindly message.

I do not know how deep the Iowa soldiers waded out to secure the cotton; but I do know that a heavy lot came up in good condition very promptly, and that I shipped it to St. Louis to Partrage & Co. for sale, and that it was sold for $1,950, which I charged to my account, and which enabled me to more than double the amount of supplies I had lost.

I see by bills in my possession that I bought immense quantities of supplies in St. Louis. There is one bill of seventy-five bushels of dried apples, while all the onions in the market were bought up, and lemons and other antiscorbutics; and when our forces surrounded Vicksburg, heavy supplies were rushed in to meet their pressing wants, especially those who were sick and wounded in hospital and camp.

Somehow I lost the address of that Iowa colonel; but although more than thirty years have passed, I have never ceased to feel the most profound gratitude to that colonel and his men for their heroic services. If this should fall under the eyes of any of them, I should be very glad to hear from them, and to thank them personally.



THE name of Harriet Beecher Stowe recalls the story of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” It was a story that thrilled and moved the people of this country as no other story has ever done. Its influence was not a sentimental and transitory one. The shafts of truth were sent home to men’s consciences, and were abiding; they live to-day.

It may not, however, be generally known that the hero of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” did not die till a few years ago—in 1883.

I knew him personally, and have heard the story from his own lips. Mrs. Stowe was acquainted with Uncle Tom, and read a sketch of his life which had been published by the Anti-Slavery Society before she wrote her book.

His history and work after the beating he had received, which brought him down to death’s door, are more remarkable than those that had preceded, which she records, and where she leaves him dead. He recovered, and afterwards had an opportunity to escape with his family from slavery.[248] He used such sagacity in planning his journey, preparing for months for the great event, that he was able to elude his pursuers, and reach Canada in safety. Two of his four children were too small to travel on foot such a long journey. So he made a sack with straps over his shoulders, and carried them on his back out of slavery. At times his back was so sore, from the heat and friction, that the blood ran down to his heels.

It was a heroic effort for freedom for himself, and his children, and his wife.

He was, as far as I am able to judge, the most remarkable colored man that has ever lived on this continent.

His home, which I have visited, was on the Sydenham River, near the town of Dresden, Ontario, Canada. It was a most comfortable one.

He did not know one letter from another when he reached Canada. He became a scholar, and in a few years spoke the English language correctly and without the Southern accent.

He had neither money nor credit when he settled in Canada, but he owned at the time of his death one of the finest farms in the Dominion.

He had never studied oratory, but he became one of the most eloquent speakers in Canada and England. He could fill Exeter Hall, England, without effort. Lords and ladies entertained him at their castles, and on invitation of Queen Victoria he visited her at Windsor Palace.

[249]His name was Josiah Henson. I visited him in August, 1882, at his home. He was then nearly ninety-three years of age. In March, 1883, having turned into his ninety-fourth year, he died. His mind was clear, his conversation intelligent and logical. The pathetic story of his running away from slavery would have been, if touched by Mrs. Stowe’s pen, far in advance of anything in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

He was a friend of the slaves, and for several years before, and especially during the war, was one of the conductors and guides on the underground railroad to Canada.

He founded a colony near Dresden.

He was well acquainted with Mrs. Stowe, and frequently visited her at her home in Boston.

He wrote his life before she wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

His anti-slavery speeches in England won him a great reputation for oratory.

The last time he was in London, Queen Victoria invited him to an interview with her at Windsor Palace; and after lunch was served to him and his party, he was ushered into the presence of the Queen, in the great drawing-room of the palace, where all the lords- and ladies-in-waiting had been gathered in. The interview was a most interesting one.

When she told him that she was glad to see him, and spoke appreciatively of his services, he responded easily and frankly:—

[250]“I am glad to see you, my sovereign, and to be so graciously received by you. But I do not forget that I am an alien, and that I was a slave. I came flying for life and liberty to your dominion; and when my weary feet touched the soil over which you reign I was a free man. I knelt reverently, and kissed the earth, and thanked my God that wherever your flag floated the slave was free and safe. I desire to assure your Majesty, that among the millions of your subjects, although I am one of the humblest, there are none more true and loyal than Josiah Henson.”

Her Majesty was visibly moved. Prince Leopold and Princess Beatrice, two of her children, were on either side of her during this interview, which lasted for some time. She took from the hand of Beatrice a little package and handed it to him, saying:—

“Accept this as a small token of my appreciation of your valuable services to the slaves in America, and as a token of my interest in your race, especially those who have settled in Canada.”

The package contained a small picture of herself set in gold, resting on a gold easel. As that was kept in the safe at the bank I did not see it; but I did see the oil painting of “Uncle Tom,” as everybody called him, presented to him by the Anti-Slavery Society of Boston, about the time Mrs. Stowe’s book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” came out.



IN October, 1863, I came up from the hospitals in the front, to attend a sanitary convention at Muscatine, Iowa.

As I was legally commissioned the sanitary agent of the State by Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood, having been elected to that position by the Legislature of Iowa, my presence was greatly desired by the workers.

The convention was large and representative. But my own heart was greatly burdened with touching messages from dying soldiers to their wives and children. In the midst of the convention I boldly announced my purpose to try to establish a home for soldiers’ orphan children. The proposition was received with the wildest enthusiasm; and the convention took action at once, not only indorsing the movement, but pledging financial support.

There was no precedent to follow, as there was no institution of the kind in all the world.

I was elected president of “The Orphans’ Home[252] Association,” but declined, and Governor Stone, the newly elected governor of the State, was chosen. The ablest men and women of the State were brought into the organization, and the Home was duly opened in a rented house.

The house, although large, was soon crowded to overflowing, and we could get no larger building that would accommodate the hundreds who were applying for admission.

A committee sent out to search for more commodious quarters reported new, fine barracks on a piece of confiscated land of thirty acres, adjoining the town of Davenport.

The barracks were new and well-built, and had cost $46,000.

The leading men of Iowa, as well as the women, were actively enlisted in the work.

Ex-Governor Kirkwood, and his private secretary, N. H. Brainard, Governor Stone, Judge Lowe, Judge Coles, Chaplain Ingalls, John Parvin, and many others whose names were a guaranty of honest and faithful work, were active.

I was selected to go to Washington and secure these barracks as a gift from the government, if possible. If I could not obtain them as a gift, I was authorized to offer $1,000 a year as rent for them. I protested strongly against being sent on such an important mission; but I was overruled, and was obliged to accept the duty.

When I reached Washington, October, 1865, I[253] went to the surgeon-general’s office, and made known my mission, and secured an official statement that those barracks would not be needed for hospital purposes. I want to say in this connection that Surgeon-General J. K. Barnes had always co-operated with me most heartily in all my work.

I then called on Quartermaster-General Meigs, the man who with such wonderful executive ability fed and clothed the great armies of the republic, furnishing quarters and equipments, and paid their wages with an honesty and fidelity that have never been questioned.

I had often met him before; and no one who ever saw him could forget his honest, rugged, but kindly face.

When I made known my mission, he looked surprised and pleased, and then said,—

“Well, now, that is certainly a good use to put these deserted barracks to.”

“General,” I said, “all I want you to do, is to say officially to the government that they will not be needed for military purposes.”

“They were never needed; they ought never to have been built. It was a waste of money.”

“Then, General, you can certainly say they will not be needed for military purposes. Please say that officially.”

He took up his pen and wrote out a statement, informing the government that the new cavalry[254] barracks at Davenport, Ia., would not be needed for military purposes, “even if hostilities were resumed.” His statement covered over two pages.

Thus armed, I went to the office of the Secretary of War.

I had become acquainted with Mr. Stanton under the most favorable circumstances.

The governor of Iowa had commended me to him, and early in 1862 obtained for me a general order for transportation of myself and supplies and rations. And later, when I called on him personally, I was the bearer of letters of introduction and commendation from some of his most influential and trusted friends.

Afterwards he always seemed glad to see me, and graciously granted all my requests.

He was prompt and clear in all his business methods, and was by far the best listener I have ever met. When I talked to him there was no need of repeating; he apprehended my meaning. When he talked, there was no room to misunderstand him. There was no fuss and bluster, or pretence, or attempt to show off himself or his authority; and that pleased me. I went, therefore, to his office with great hope and courage. When I asked to see the Secretary of War, a young, jolly-looking officer came forward and asked,—

“What can I do for you, madam?”

“I wish to see Mr. Stanton.”

[255]“Mr. Stanton is in Boston. I am Major Eccles, acting Secretary of War, and will attend to any business you may have to transact.”

I informed him as to my mission. He laughed heartily.

“That, madam, is a little beyond my prerogative. I don’t feel authorized to give away the property of the government.”

I put myself at once in telegraphic communication with Mr. Stanton. He asked some questions as to the legal status of the institution, and that was all I heard that day.

The next morning I took another requisition to the War Department. It was for hospital supplies. I distinctly remember the first few items, 1,800 blankets; 2,500 sheets; 3,000 pillow-cases; 1,500 pillows, and so on, till everything I could remember that could be of use to the Home were enumerated.

When I handed the document to Major Eccles, I said,—

“Here is a small requisition I should like to have go in with the application for the property.”

“This is a small requisition,” and he laughed heartily as he read the list aloud.

“Yes, sir,” I said with great gravity. “This is a small requisition; but with the help of the generous people of Iowa, I hope we shall be able to get along with that.”

“Now seriously, on what grounds have you a[256] right to ask these supplies from the government?”

“Well, sir, I call your attention to the fact, that at the beginning of the war the government had very few hospital supplies. The loyal people of the North helped to fit them up. The loyal State of Iowa sent nearly $200,000 worth of supplies into the military hospitals. Now, all I ask is that you give us back a few of the supplies that we gave you, as you no longer need them.”

“You are certainly entitled to them. I will do what I can to get this through.”

The Iowa delegation at Washington, and the officers in the War Department, including Major Eccles, became greatly interested, and anxious that Secretary Stanton’s answer should be favorable.

When the answer came it was:—

“Will you accept the property subject to the approval of Congress?”

I flashed back my answer as quickly as possible:—

“Yes; and will get the bill through without annoyance to you.”

As I was obliged to leave the War Department before an answer came, Major Eccles drove up to the house of my friend, where I was stopping, with the telegraphic order, turning over the property to the Association. The gift of the barracks and the hospital supplies aggregated $52,000.

[257]I was lifted to the clouds, figuratively speaking, and rushed to the telegraph-office, and sent off despatches to the newspapers in Iowa. The next morning all the leading papers in Iowa appeared with great head-lines announcing the magnificent gift.

Before Congress met we had bought out the heirs of the confiscated property, remodelled and plastered the buildings, and had nearly five hundred soldiers’ orphan children comfortably housed there.

Hon. Hiram Price, a member of Congress from the Davenport District, took charge of our bill, and carried it through Congress without annoyance to Mr. Stanton.

The fact that we had possession, and were housing and supporting so many soldiers’ orphan children in these barracks, made opposition almost impossible.

With this valuable property in our possession, it was an easy task to induce the State Legislature to take this burden off our hands and make it a State institution. The frame barracks have been replaced by substantial brick buildings; but the Home is still conducted on the cottage plan, and is one of the finest institutions of the State.

Edwin M. Stanton’s generous action in giving this timely help to a weak society secured the success of a worthy institution, that has educated[258] and sent out thousands of children to be good and useful citizens.

Mr. Stanton was one of the strong, true, honest men who made Mr. Lincoln’s administration a success. He was intensely loyal, and intolerant to treason and self-seeking, and he made traitors tremble on both sides of the line. He was, more than any other man, the balance-wheel in the complicated machinery of the government which held and regulated its internal workings.

He was a clear and close thinker, a keen and sagacious discerner of human motives, a tireless worker, and was too open and frank to conceal his opinions of men and things.

Too unselfish to enrich himself, he toiled on, literally killing himself at work, and dying poor. When passion and prejudice have passed away he will receive his full meed of praise.



NO part of the army service was so defective, during the first two years of the war, as the cooking department in the United States government hospitals.

Few of the men employed as cooks in these hospitals were trained or skilled; most of them had obtained their knowledge of cookery after being assigned to duty, under most unfavorable circumstances, and without the proper facilities for doing their work.

One general kitchen provided the food for all—the sick, the wounded, and the dying, as well as the nurses and convalescents.

Where there were women nurses in a hospital, and they could get a little stove of their own, special dishes were prepared for the worst patients; but there was no general system of providing dainty and suitable diet for the thousands in need of delicate food in home-like preparation.

The supplies coming from the generous people of the North occasioned great anxiety.

[260]The surgeons forbade their distribution at the bedside of the patients, on the ground that something might be given which would endanger their lives or retard their recovery, and ordered them turned over to the commissary. Often supplies thus turned over failed to reach the sick or wounded.

It was under these trying circumstances that the plan of a system of special-diet kitchens came to me,—clearly and definitely, as a flash from the skies,—like a divine inspiration.

It was in December, 1863, that the thought came to me, and I hastened at once to put the plan into execution.

Everybody seemed to accept the plan with enthusiasm; and the Sanitary and Christian Commission, and the officers and surgeons of the army, all hastened to co-operate with me in inaugurating and accomplishing this great reform.

The plan in itself was very simple and practical, and was entirely satisfactory to all parties.

1. The food for those needing special diet was prescribed by the ward surgeons. A bill of fare was provided, with the name of the patient and the number of his bed, for every patient put on special diet; and on this bill the surgeon prescribed his diet by making a mark opposite the articles the patient was allowed. This plan gave the sick or wounded man a chance to express his own wants in regard to food, which was a great advantage.

[261]2. These bills of fare were consolidated by the ward-master, and a copy sent to the superintendent of the special-diet kitchen, and the bills were returned to their places again. So with these consolidated lists before them, the managers of the special-diet kitchen knew just what to cook, and just the quantity.

3. The food thus ordered was prepared in the special-diet kitchen, which, although under separate management, was a part of the hospital, and as completely under the control of the authorities as any other part of the hospital.

The kitchens were fitted up with ranges and other suitable conveniences, and were under the management of suitable ladies employed by the surgeons in charge. A storeroom conveniently near or adjoining was provided, where the commuted rations of soldiers put on special diet were stored, also the supplies furnished by the Sanitary and Christian Commissions; and the woman in charge of the special-diet kitchen carried the keys.

4. These dietary nurses were not cooks; they only superintended the work. Many of those who worked in these kitchens were soldiers who were somewhat disabled, or convalescent soldiers who were not able to join their regiments.

In large hospitals, where one thousand or fifteen hundred were furnished meals three times a day, the work was divided up, and each man had his part of the work, and soon became an expert in it.[262] There were in the large kitchens from twenty-five to thirty men required to do the work.

The food thus systematically prepared under the watchful eyes of women competent to govern such a force and direct the work, was brought to the bedside of the patients in home-like preparation.

No mistake would likely be made in the distribution, as each patient had at the head of his bed the list of articles of food prescribed by the surgeon of his ward.

The first kitchen was opened at Cumberland Hospital, Nashville, Tenn.

The Christian Commission of Pittsburg, Pa., sent me the lumber to build a kitchen, storeroom, and a ladies’ room, and two of the largest ranges in the market.

Mary E. Moorhead, a wealthy lady of that city, daughter of Hon. J. K. Moorhead, at that time a member of Congress, and one of Pittsburg’s most honored citizens, and Hannah Shaw, who has since distinguished herself in missionary work in China, took charge of that kitchen. Miss Moorhead has since the close of the war devoted herself to benevolent work.

The change wrought in that hospital was so marvellous that all the leading surgeons from Louisville to Chattanooga were anxious for the establishment of special-diet kitchens in connection with their hospitals. Many of them could not[263] believe the wonderful stories circulated as to the great reform wrought in Cumberland Hospital, and, like the Queen of Sheba, came long distances to see for themselves as to the truth of the matter, and, like her, confessed that “the half had not been told them.”

I was most generously sustained in this work by the Christian Commission, who turned all their supplies into these kitchens, and paid all the expenses of this service. I was chosen superintendent of the special-diet kitchen work, which rapidly extended all along the lines from Vicksburg to Petersburg.

The surgeons accepting this help, agreed to employ the women selected by me, and allow them to have charge of the supplies furnished for use in the special-diet kitchens, from the government and the Sanitary and Christian Commissions. The surgeons had charge of the kitchen, appointed these women, and directed their work, as in all parts of their hospitals.

There was no opposition to this work. Mr. Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, Surgeon-General Barnes, and Assistant-Surgeon-General Wood, gave me their indorsement and all the aid I needed. It soon became an admitted fact that thousands of lives were being saved by this supply of better food, which many of them needed more than they did medicine.

Surgeon-General Barnes became so enthusiastic[264] over the plan that he appointed a commission of United States army surgeons to consider it, with a view of adopting it and ingrafting it upon the United States general hospital system.

I was invited by the surgeon-general to meet with them. The committee received me most graciously at their regular sittings in Washington, D. C., and listened with great respect to my explanations; and after carefully considering my plans, adopted them as a part of the regular United States hospital system.

To give some idea of the magnitude of the work, out of over one hundred special-diet kitchens established by me, I give the amount of food in rations issued from sixteen special-diet kitchens, a record of which I happen to have now on hand for February, 1865.

Tea 100,350
Coffee 54,818
Cocoa 4,770
Milk, Cold 12,194
Milk, boiled 9,860
Milk, Thickened 7,517
Bread and Milk, Boiled 2,689
Beef Tea 7,548
Beef Essence 1,699
Bread and Butter 133,938
Toast, Buttered 28,539
Toast, Dry 23,809
Toast, Milk 33,611
Crackers 18,999
Corn Bread 15,714
Biscuit 5,458[265]
Warm Cakes 2,629
Rice 9,239
Barley 492
Farina 8,424
Gruel 1,589
Corn Starch 17,150
Mush 10,831
Soup, Chicken 8,472
Soup, Mutton 856
Soup, Beef 10,716
Soup, Barley 599
Soup, Oyster 10,193
Soup, Potato 2,301
Soup, Vegetable 4,885
Beef Steak 27,623
Roast Beef 36,599
Ham 3,585
Chicken 11,389
Turkey (only occasionally) 809
Mutton 2,357
Veal 1,510
Pork 2,208
Hash 7,925
Oysters 5,086
Fish 5,721
Eggs 15,538
Potatoes 47,725
Turnips 7,785
Carrots 1,070
Onions 12,356
Beets 271
Cabbage 15,059
Krout 1,296
Beans 494
Parsnips 1,291[266]
Tomatoes 7,312
Puddings 34,249
Pies 5,113
Cakes 3,485
Tapioca 2,772
Sago 60
Blanc-Mange 807
Custard 1,616
Jellies 1,763
Canned Fruit 12,816
Stewed Fruit 29,266
Apple Sauce 7,618
Apples, Baked 11,774
Pickles 20,343
Lemons 127
Cheese 825
Cordials, etc 1,940
Total, 899,472

This was the regular bill of fare in all the special-diet kitchens. If any one of these articles could not be obtained, they were marked off. Turkey was only on the list occasionally. It will be seen by the great variety that the appetites of the patients were consulted. Nothing, however, was issued without it being ordered by the surgeon in attendance upon the patient.

Some of the articles furnished on the above list may seem unfit for sick men; but when we take into consideration that there were many wounded men who were allowed by the surgeons to eat anything[267] they might choose, and others who were homesick, or hopelessly ill, or dying, who in the loneliness of suffering remembered and craved something because a kind mother’s hand had once prepared such dainties for them, it is no longer a matter of wonder.

And since the loved ones at home could not cheer them with their presence and love in their dark hours of suffering, it was a delightful task for these noble women to substitute home food and words of cheer.

It is the verdict of history that this system of special-diet kitchens saved thousands of lives. During the last eighteen months of the war, over two million rations were issued monthly from this long line of special-diet kitchens, established, many of them, almost under the guns.



THE remarkable growth of the American Republic is without a parallel in the history of the world.

A hundred years ago she was a feeble nation—in her infancy, and scarcely recognized by the other nations of the earth. Now she stands foremost among the governments of the world, and leads the nations in almost everything.

Her territory is extensive and contiguous, lying between two great oceans, and bounded on the north and south by navigable lakes and seas.

Her resources are almost boundless. She gluts the markets of the world with her silver and gold. Her iron and copper ores are rich and abundant, nearly all the metals needed for the use of her people may be had for the digging, and she may bedeck her children with the jewels gathered from her own fields.

She can produce an abundance of cotton, wool, flax, hemp, and silk. She is already the chief competitor in the cotton markets of Asia, and[269] from her own looms is clothing her people in muslins and fine linen, and her daughters in royal purple from her silk factories. Her food supply is immense. Her grain-fields are broad and rich enough to supply bread to the millions of her own people, and to meet the needs of the needy nations of the earth. Her meat supply is so large that she is glad to share it with all the world. Her fruit yield is ample, sufficient in variety and abundance to meet the needs of all. Only a few luxuries are denied her. She could shut herself in, and live luxuriously on her own products. There is not one thing that comes from abroad that her people could not live comfortably without. Tea, coffee, spices, and tropical fruits are not necessary to human life.

Her woods are abundant and fine, equal to any reasonable demand. Her furniture goes to the ends of the earth.

Her building material is abundant and of superior quality. She has granite and marble in variety, nearly all kinds of valuable building-stones, and clays of almost every description. Her potteries are now doing credible work, and her china and glass wares are attracting attention in other lands. The new process by which glass china is produced is a marvellous success.

Her people are intelligent and enterprising. The rich resources of the country have stimulated their activities and awakened their inventive genius[270] till they are the leaders in the work of the world, and the most thrifty and enterprising nation on the face of the globe.

They have tunnelled the mountains; bridged the rivers; created water-ways; made the wilderness to bloom; and chained steam and electricity as motive powers to their chariot-wheels, to do their bidding on the land and under the sea.

A system of government has been established superior to any other known before among men; and a system of free schools that has no parallel on the face of the earth has made the people intelligent and efficient for the practical work of life, far beyond other nations, taken as a mass. And yet with all these blessings, dangers threaten her.

One of the dangers that threaten this glorious Republic is the foreign emigration. Attracted by her rich resources and the marvellous stories of her wealth, the people of other nations are coming to share our blessings. The danger is not in the number who come, but in the character of many of these new-comers.

They come to a new nation with old habits, and old prejudices, and another language. They are a misfit. They care nothing for the American Republic and her free institutions, only as they will add to their physical comfort and personal aggrandizement. They do not assimilate or become Americanized. Many of them are ignorant[271] and brutish. They huddle together; they are as much foreigners as they were in Hungary or Sicily. They remain foreigners, and they have nothing in common with us except their physical needs.

Among them are the vicious and the idle. Our thoroughfares are filled with tramps and beggars. The prisons of our cities are crowded with foreign criminals and paupers. Almost two-thirds of all the criminals and paupers in our large cities are foreign born. Criminals flying from justice; paupers who, from infirmities of body and mind, or from idle and dissolute habits, must be supported,—find a refuge here.

Statesmen may well question as to how long this Republic can take into her bosom, and accord all the rights of citizenship to, the criminals and paupers of the world, without danger.

But there is danger from our own people. The accumulation of great wealth, without a corresponding increase of brains and culture, is giving us an undesirable aristocracy. They ape the old, effete aristocracies of the Old World.

They discount American institutions, and “adore a title.” They try to rule business, politics, and social life. But this evil will be overcome.

In this country, where there are no entailed estates, death equalizes wealth and power every few years.



Bow low, fair clouds, and kiss the earth,
Where Human Freedom had her birth,
Where heroes struggled in the fight,
And patriots died for human right.
Bow low, and rainbow glories shed
Above a nation’s gallant dead;
Then bear the news o’er land and sea,
Earth’s fettered millions may be free.
Fly low, bright birds with painted wings,
And join the song a nation sings,
A glad, and sacred jubilee,
For God has set his people free.
Sing of the flag with starry field,
Sing of the eagle and the shield,
Sing of the victories of Peace,
Sing of the time when wars shall cease.
Bloom on, sweet flowers, thy perfume shed
Above each soldier’s lowly bed;
Kind nature’s fairest tribute bring,
And clothe each mound with flowers of spring.
Look up, with loving, dewy eyes,
Into the blue recording skies,
And pledge in red, and white, and blue,
That May flowers ever will be true.
Let all the people gather near,
And bow themselves with reverent fear;
For God with mighty, outstretched hand
Has graciously redeemed our land.
Come, Peace, and spread thy sheltering wing;
Come, Love, thy sweetest tribute bring;
Come, all, and join a sacred lay
To celebrate Memorial Day.


Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Archaic or variant spelling has been retained.