Posted by: The staff | December 15, 2012

Wounded


From John Hennessy:

Local resident Matilda Hamilton, at Belvoir.

The parlor was filled with wounded men when I got there. Belvoir has been taken for a hospital. Forest Hill, is too near the battlefield. We saw General Gregg of South Carolina brought in mortally wounded.  Mr., Yerby, who knew him, said he was an elegant man. A soldier came up as we all sat in the porch at Belvoir and asked if he could get any nails. We asked what was the matter, and he told us his friend, young Barton was killed, and he wanted to make a coffin far him

Carrying the wounded to Falmouth Station.1399From George Parsons, 16th Maine. 

On the Battle Field.  December 12th or 13th 1862   Dear Father.  I write you wile lying on the battle field, wounded, perhaps fatally.  I am very weak I fell, wounded in the side. Good by, if I never see you again.  Tell mother I think of her while lying here, and I wish I had her to be with me in my past parting moments. Much love to all. I fell while doing my duty….Farewell. I may never see you again on earth, but I hope to meet you in heaven, where there will be no fighting…  Yours affectionately,  Geo. R.Parsons. 

St. Clair Mulholland, in St. George’s Episcopal Church

In the lecture room of the Episcopal church eight operating tables were in full blast, the floor was densely packed with men whose limbs were crushed, fractured and torn.  Lying there in deep pools of blood, they waited very patiently; there was no grumbling, no screaming, hardly a moan, many of the badly hurt were smiling, and chatting, and one-who had both legs shot off-was cracking jokes with an officer who could not laugh at the humorous sallies, for his lower jaw was shot away.  The cases here were nearly all capital, and amputation was almost always resorted to.  Hands and feet, arms and legs were thrown under each table, and the sickening piles grew larger as the night progressed.  The delicate limbs of the drummer boy fell along with the rough hand of the veteran in years, but all, every one, was brave and cheerful.

Embalming building.2413Death at the hospitals. Dr. Franklin Hough, 97th New York.

Hough, at Rumford.  “…All hands were busy—decisions involving loss of limbs or of life were quickly made and executed, cooks, attendants, and slightly wounded soldiers were actively employed, and the pioneer corps began its sad labor of opening a long trench to receive the bodies of those that die.  The burial service is simple.  A dozen bodies are laid side by side in the trench, they are covered with blankets and the clothing stripped from wounded parts—a piece of board bearing in pencil an inscription of the name, rank and company is placed at the head of each, and the earth is again thrown over them, leaving the further end of the trench open, to receive the next comers….As an exceptional usage, a chaplain will at times pronounce a few words of exhortation and prayer, among the few who gather around, but the greater part are interred without any religious services whatever.” 

Abraham Welch of the  4th New York established his hospital in a “large room which had been used for the purpose of keeping carriages in.” 

There was room enough to accommodate 50 or 75 of the wounded, and I do not think it was an hour, or in fact, half an hour before this number was brought in….. The roads and streets were very muddy and wet from recent rains, and the floor on which I was obliged to lay the wounded, soon became equally so. But, notwithstanding, I was obliged to lay the wounded down upon this muddy, wet, cold floor with only their blankest underneath them—and these in many instances, saturaged with their own blood…..I had only time to perform such operations and dress such of the wounded as was required by the most urgent necessity, and this in most cases, in a temporary and superficial manner….

Chaplain J.W. Stuckenberg, 145th Pennsylvania.

To our right I saw a large brick house immediately back of one of our batteries. I pointed it out to the surgeons and we immediately took possession of it as a hospital.  Some of the wounded of our regiment were brought into the parlor ….-which was elegantly furnished. The first few were but slightly wounded. Then was brought in one who was still a boy-his name was W[illia]m Wicks,” Co D-who was wounded in the groin. He at once recognized me. His groaning was loud and heartrending. “Chaplain” he said, “why don’t you kill me? It is cruel to let me suffer so-it is a mercy to kill me.” I could hardly stand this-I tried to compose him. Medicine was given to deaden the pain-but it was of little avail. He knew he must die-then came thoughts and fears of eternity-and he spoke to me about his soul. I knelt by his side offered a short prayer and did all to make his suffering less excruciating.

Letter of J.C. Allen re death of Richard W. Milner, 13th GA, December 18, 1862, to his cousin Sallie.

Dear Cousin Sallie,  It is with feelings of sadness that I attempt to write you this evening for I suppose ere this reaches you you will have heard that Dick is no more.  He died on the night of the 16th inst., having been wounded, severely, Sunday last the 14th, he lived about two days and a half, after receiving the wound, died about eleven oclock.  At the same time and by the same ball Clem Maddux was killed they with two others having been detailed to go after water were struck by a solid cannon ball.  Dick’s left arm was badly shattered near the shoulder, and the arm amputated there…..He was buried on the farm of Capt John Alsop, five miles from Fredericksburg, in two hundred yards of the Richmond and Fredericksburg rail road, under a small persimmon tree, near two other graves, under a larger Persimmon    His overcoat was left in charge of a Negro boy on the same farm, with instructions to deliver it to any one who should come after the body.  I have been this precise, thinking you might probably some time wish the body send for. …Cousin Sallie, you will please except of our heartfelt sympathies in your sad bereavement.  No one feels the loss more keenly than I do myself.  My heart saddens at the pain and anguish this wicked war has caused. 

 PS  Those who attended the burial say the corpse was interred decently, in a coffin, much better than soldiers usually are.

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Responses

  1. Unbelievable hardships and pain that are nearly indescribable…these first hand accounts are almost unbelievable in the way that these men endured the pain and hoped to die as soon as possible to relieve the agony…thank you John for making this available…I cannot imagine the thoughts going through the minds of these young men…having been through two armed conflicts myself, these dialogues bring back many vivid memories but nothing like the horror that is described here…Trent

  2. Heartwrenching. I attend St George in F’burg and will never feel the same about it as I sit there in comfort. Thanks so much for posting this.

  3. A sampling of the sacrifices endured to preserve the integrity of our nation. Such a shame that the changes that could have been resolved through our political process had to be visited upon the ordinary citizen in a civil war. A very high price was paid by many who deserved better from their leaders.


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