Here again I stated the case of the man without a bed, and found listeners neither surprised nor shocked. Every one seemed quite familiar with trifles of that nature, and by and by, I, too, would look upon them with, indifference.
I do not remember whether it was Saturday engagements, or Sunday sanctity, or lack of jurisdiction, which barred the Commission from interference; but think they must wait until the fort surgeon sent a requisition.
I inquired here about hospital stores, and found there was great demand for everything, especially money. They declined my services in every capacity save that of inducing the public to hurry forward funds and supplies. I told them of Miss Dix's opinion on that subject, and they agreed that it was quite useless to send anything to her, since she used nothing she received, and would not permit any one else to use stores.
Late in the next week Mrs. Thayer came, in great tribulation, to know how I ever could have done so foolish and useless a thing as report that case to Miss Dix! Oh dear! Oh dear! It was so unwise!
Miss Dix had gone to the fort on Monday, taken the surgeon to task about that bed, gave me as her authority, and for me Mrs. Thayer was responsible, and would be excluded from that fort on account of my indiscretion. There was another standing quarrel between the directress of nurses and the surgeons. The bitterness engendered would all be visited upon the patients, and it was so deplorable to think I had been so imprudent.
Her distress was so real, and she was so real in her desire to do good, that I felt myself quite a culprit, especially as the man got no bed, and died on his slats.
I was so lectured and warned about the sin of this, my first offense, in telling that which "folk wad secret keep" in hospital management, that I was afraid to go to another, lest I should get some one into trouble; so stayed at home while the Washington hospitals were being filled with wounded from the battle of Chancellorville. I think it was the afternoon of the second Sabbath that I went with Mrs. Kelsey to visit Campbell, to get material for a letter, and tendered my services, but their arrangements were complete. Passing through the wards it did indeed seem as if nothing was wanting.
As a matter of form, I asked James Bride, of Wisconsin, if there was anything I could do for him, was surprised to see him hesitate, and astounded to have him answer:
"Well, nothing particular, unless"—he stopped and picked at the coverlid—"unless you could get us something to quench thirst."
"Something to quench thirst? Why, I have been told you have everything you can possibly require!"
"Well, they are very good to us, and do all they can; but it gets very hot in here in the afternoons, we cannot go out into the shade, and get so thirsty. Drinking so much water makes us sick, and if we had something a little sour!"
"But, would they let me bring you anything?"
"O yes! I see ladies bring things every day."
"Then I shall be glad to bring you something tomorrow."
That morning I wrote to the New York Tribune, relating the incident of the man asking for cooling drinks, and saying that if people furnished the material, I would devote my time to distributing their gifts. Next morning I got two dozen lemons, pressed the juice into a jar, put in sugar, took a glass and spoon and, so soon as visitors were admitted, began giving lemonade to those men who seemed to have most need. Going to the water tank for every glass of water made it slow work, but I improved my walks by talking to the men, hearing their wants and adding to their stock of hope and cheerfulness, and was glad to see that the nurses did not seem to object to my presence, even though Campbell was the one only hospital in the city from which female nurses were rigorously excluded.
So noted had it become for the masculine pride of its management, that I had been warned not to stay past the length of an ordinary visit, lest I should be roughly told to go away; and my surprise was equal to my pleasure, when a man came and said:
"Would it not be easier for you if you had a pitcher?"
I said it would, but that I lived too far away to bring one.
"Oh! I will bring you a pitcher! Why did you not ask for one?"
"I did not want to trouble you, for they told me you did not like to have women here." He laughed, and said: "I guess we'll all be glad enough to have you! Not many of your sort. First thing they all do is to begin to make trouble, and it always takes two men to wait on one of them."
He brought the pitcher, and I felt that I was getting on in the world. Still I was very humble and careful to win the favor of "the King's Chamberlain"—those potencies, the nurses, who might report me to that Royal woman-hater, Dr. Baxter, surgeon in charge, whose name was a terror to women who intruded themselves into military hospitals.
As I passed, with my pitcher, I saw one man delerious, and expectorating, profusely, a matter green as grass could be—knew this was hospital gangrene, and remembered all Dr. Palmer had told me years before, of his experience in Paris hospitals, and the antidotes to that and scurvey poison. Indeed, the results of many conversations with first-class physicians, and of some reading on the subject of camp diseases, came to me; and I knew just what was wanted here, but saw no sign that the want was likely to be supplied. For this man it was too late, but I could not see that anything was being done to prevent the spread of this fearful scourge.
Passing from that ward into the one adjoining, I came suddenly upon two nurses dressing a thigh stump, while the patient filled the air with half-suppressed shrieks and groans. I had never before seen a stump, but remembered Dr. Jackson's lecture over the watermellon at desert, on amputation, for the benefit of Charles Sumner; and electricity never brought light quicker than there came to me the memory of all he had said about the proper arrangement of the muscles over the end of the bone; and added to this, came a perfect knowledge of the relations of those mangled muscles to the general form of the body. I saw that the nurse who held the stump tortured the man by disregarding natural law, and setting down pitcher and glass on the floor, I stepped up, knelt, slipped my hands under the remains of that strong thigh, and said to the man who held it:
"Now, slip out your hands! easy! easy! there!" The instant it rested on my hands the groans ceased, and I said:
"Is that better?"
"Oh, my God! yes!"
"Well, then, I will always hold it when it is dressed!"
"But you will not be here!"
"I will come!"
"That would be too much trouble!"
"I have nothing else to do, and will think it no trouble!"
The nurse, who did the dressing, was very gentle, and there was no more pain; but I saw that the other leg was amputated below the knee, and this was a double reason why he should be tenderly cared for. So I took the nurse aside, and asked when the wounds were to be dressed again. He said in the morning, and promised to wait until I came to help. Next morning I was so much afraid of being late that I would not wait for the street cars to begin running, but walked. The guard objected to admitting me, as it was not time for visitors, but I explained and he let me pass. I must not go through the wards at that hour, so went around and came in by the door near which he lay. What was my surprise to find that not only were his wounds dressed, but that all his clothing and bed had been changed, and everything about him made as white and neat and square as if he were a corpse, which he more resembled than a living man. Oh, what a tribute of agony he had paid to the demon of appearance! We all pay heavy taxes to other people's eyes; but on none is the levy quite so onerous as on the patients of a model hospital! I saw that he breathed and slept, and knew his time was short; but sought the head nurse, and asked why he had not waited for me; he hesitated, stammered, blushed and said:
"Why, the fact is, sister, he has another wound that it would not be pleasant for you to see."
"Do you mean that that man has a groin wound in addition to all else?"
"Yes, sister! yes! and I thought—"
"No matter what you thought, you have tortured him to save your mock-modesty and mine. You could have dressed that other wound, covered him, and let me hold the stump. You saw what relief it gave him yesterday. How could you—how dare you torture him?"
"Well, sister, I have been in hospitals with sisters a great deal, and they never help to dress wounds. I thought you would not get leave to come. Would not like to."
"I am not a sister, I am a mother; and that man had suffered enough. Oh, how dared you? how dared you to do such a thing?" I wrung my hands, and he trembled like a leaf, and said.
"It was wrong, but I did not know. I never saw a sister before—"
"I tell you I am no sister, and I cannot think whatever your sisters are good for."
He promised to let me help him whenever it would save pain, and I returned to the dying man. The sun shone and birds sang. He stirred, opened his eyes, smiled to see me, and said.
"It is a lovely morning, and I will soon be gone."
I said, "Yes; the winter of your life is past; for you the reign of sorrow is over and gone; the spring time appears on the earth, and the time for the singing of birds has come; your immortal summer is close at hand; Christ, who loveth us, and has suffered for us, has prepared mansions of rest, for those who love him, and you are going soon."
"Oh, yes; I know he will take me home, and provide for my wife and children when I am gone."
"Then all is well with you!" He told me his name and residence, in Pittsburg, and I remembered that his parents lived our near neighbors when I was a child. So, more than ever, I regretted that I could not have made his passage through the dark valley one of less pain; but it was a comfort to his wife to know I had been with him.
When he slept again, I got a slightly wounded man to sit by him and keep away the flies, while I went to distribute some delicacies brought to him by visitors, and which he would never need.
At the door of Ward Three, a large man stood, and seemed to be an officer. I asked him if there were any patients in that ward who would need wine penado. He looked down at me, pleasantly, and said:
"I think it very likely, madam, for it is a very bad ward."
It was indeed a very bad ward, for a settled gloom lay upon the faces of the occupants, who suffered because the ward-master and entire set of nurses had recently been discharged, and new, incompetent men appointed in their places.
As I passed down, turning from right to left, to give to such men as needed it the mild stimulant I had brought, I saw how sad and hopeless they were; only one man seemed inclined to talk, and he sat near the centre of the ward, while some one dressed his shoulder from which the arm had been carried away by a cannon ball. A group of men stood around him, talking of that strange amputation, and he was full of chat and cheerfulness.
They called him Charlie; but my attention was quickly drawn to a young man, on a cot, close by, who was suffering torture from the awkwardness of a nurse who was dressing a large, flesh-wound on the outside of his right thigh.
I set my bowl on the floor, caught the nurse's wrist, lifted his hand away, and said:
"Oh, stop! you are hurting that man! Let me do that!"
He replied, pleasantly,
"I'll be very glad to, for I'm a green hand!"
I took his place; saw the wounded flesh creep at the touch of cold water, and said: "Cold water hurts you!"
"Yes ma'am; a little!"
"Then we must have some warm!" But nurse said there was none.
"No warm water?" I exclaimed, as I drew back and looked at him, in blank astonishment.
"No, ma'am! there's no warm water!"
"How many wounded men have you in this hospital?"
"Well, about seven hundred, I believe."
"About seven hundred wounded men, and no warm water! So none of them get anything to eat!"
"Oh, yes! they get plenty to eat."
"And how do you cook without warm water?"
"Why, there's plenty of hot water in the kitchen, but we're not allowed to go there, and we have none in the wards."
"Where is the kitchen?"
He directed me. I covered the wound—told the patient to wait and I would get warm water. In the kitchen a dozen cooks stopped to stare at me, but one gave me what I came for, and on returning to the ward I said to Charlie:
"Now you can have some warm water, if you want it."
"But I do not want it! I like cold water best!"
"Then it is best for you, but it is not best for this man!"
I had never before seen any such wound as the one I was dressing, but I could think of but one way—clean it thoroughly, put on clean lint and rags and bandages, without hurting the patient, and this was very easy to do; but while I did this, I wanted to do something more, viz.: dispel the gloom which hung over that ward. I knew that sick folks should have their minds occupied by pleasant thoughts, and never addressed an audience with more care than I talked to that one man, in appearance, while really talking to all those who lay before me and some to whom my back was turned.
I could modulate my voice so as to be heard at quite a distance, and yet cause no jar to very sensitive nerves close at hand; and when I told my patient that I proposed to punish him now, while he was in my power, all heard and wondered; then every one was stimulated to learn that it was to keep him humble, because, having received such a wound in the charge on Marie's Hill, he would be so proud by and by that common folks would be afraid to speak to him. I should be quite thrown into the shade by his laurels, and should probably take my revenge in advance by sticking pins in him now, when he could not help himself.
This idea proved to be quite amusing, and before I had secured that bandage, the men seemed to have forgotten their wounds, except as a source of future pride, and were firing jokes at each other as rapidly as they had done bullets at the enemy. When, therefore, I proposed sticking pins into any one else who desired such punishment, there was quite a demand for my services, and with my basin of tepid water I started to wet the hard, dry dressings, and leave them to soften before being removed. Before night I discovered that lint is an instrument of incalculable torture, and should never be used, as either blood or pus quickly converts some portion of it into splints, as irritating as a pine shaving.
About nine o'clock I returned to the man I had come to help, and found that he still slept. I hoped he might rouse and have some further message for his wife, before death had finished his work, and so remained with him, although I was much needed in the "very bad ward."
I had sat by him but a few moments when I noticed a green shade on his face. It darkened, and his breathing grew labored—then ceased. I think it was not more than twenty minutes from the time I observed the green tinge until he was gone. I called the nurse, who brought the large man I had seen at the door of the bad ward, and now I knew he was a surgeon, knew also, by the sudden shadow on his face when he saw the corpse, that he was alarmed; and when he had given minute directions for the removal of the bed and its contents, the washing of the floor and sprinkling with chloride of lime, I went close to his side, and said in a low voice:
"Doctor, is not this hospital gangrene?"
He looked down at me, seemed to take my measure, and answered:
"I am very sorry to say, madam, that it is."
"Then you want lemons!"
"We would be glad to have them!" "Glad to have them?" I repeated, in profound astonishment, "why, you must have them!"
He seemed surprised at my earnestness, and set about explaining:
"We sent to the Sanitary Commission last week, and got half a box."
"Sanitary Commission, and half a box of lemons? How many wounded have you?"
"Seven hundred and fifty."
"Seven hundred and fifty wounded men! Hospital gangrene, and half a box of lemons!"
"Well, that was all we could get; Government provides none; but our Chaplain is from Boston—his wife has written to friends there and expects a box next week!"
"To Boston for a box of lemons!"
I went to the head nurse whom I had scolded in the morning, who now gave me writing materials, and I wrote a short note to the New York Tribune:
"Hospital gangrene has broken out in Washington, and we want lemons! lemons! LEMONS! LEMONS! No man or woman in health, has a right to a glass of lemonade until these men have all they need; send us lemons!"
I signed my name and mailed it immediately, and it appeared next morning. That day Schuyler Colfax sent a box to my lodgings, and five dollars in a note, bidding me send to him if more were wanting; but that day lemons began to pour into Washington, and soon, I think, into every hospital in the land. Gov. Andrews sent two hundred boxes to the Surgeon General. I received so many, that at one time there were twenty ladies, several of them with ambulances, distributing those which came to my address, and if there was any more hospital gangrene that season I neither saw nor heard of it.
The officers in Campbell knew of the letter, and were glad of the supplies it brought, but some time passed before they identified the writer as the little sister in the bad ward, who had won the reputation of being the "best wound-dresser in Washington."
GET PERMISSION TO WORK.
Rules required me to leave Campbell at five o'clock, but the sun was going down, and I lay on a cot, in the bad ward, feeling that going home, or anywhere else, was impossible, when that large doctor came, felt my pulse, laid his hand on my brow, and said:
"You must not work so hard or we will lose you! I have been hunting for you to ask if you would like to remain with us?"
"Like to remain with you? Well, you will have to send a file of soldiers with fixed bayonets to drive me away."
He laughed quite heartily, and said:
"We do not want you to go away. I am executive officer; Surgeon Kelley and Dr. Baxter, surgeon in charge, has commissioned me to say that if you wish to stay, he will have a room prepared for you. He hunted for you to say so in person, but is gone; now I await your decision. Shall I order you a room?"
"Surgeon Baxter! Why—what does he know about me?"
"Oh, Surgeon Baxter, two medical inspectors, and the surgeon of this ward were present this morning when you came in and took possession."
His black eyes twinkled, and he shook with laughter when I sat up, clasped my hands, and said:
"Oh, dear? Were they the men who were standing around Charlie? Why I had not dreamed of them being surgeons!"
"Did you not know by their shoulders traps?"
"Shoulderstraps? Do surgeons have shoulderstraps? I thought only officers wore them!"
"Well, surgeons are officers, and you can know by my shoulderstraps that I am a surgeon."
"Oh, I do not mind you; but Dr. Baxter! How I did behave before him! What must he have thought? And he does not allow women to come here!"
"Well. You passed inspection; and as you propose to stay with us, I will have a room prepared for you."
He then went on to state that the reason Doctor Baxter would not have female nurses, was that he would not submit to Miss Dix's interference, did not like the women she chose, and army regulations did not permit him to employ any other.
"But," he continued, "no one can object to his entertaining a guest, and as his guest you can employ your time as you wish."
Ah! what a glorious boon it was, this privilege of work, and my little barrack-room, just twice the width of my iron cot. I would not have exchanged for any suite in Windsor palace.
FIND A NAME.
Nothing was more needed in the bad ward, than an antidote for homesickness, and, to furnish this, I used my talking talent to the utmost, but no subject was so interesting as myself. I was the mystery of the hour. Charlie was commissioned to make discoveries, and the second day came, with a long face, and said:
"Do you know what they say about you?"
"No indeed! and suspect I should never guess."
"Well, they say you're an old maid!"
I stopped work, rose from my knees, confronted him and exclaimed, with an injured air:
"An old maid! Why Charlie! is it possible you let them talk in that manner about me, after the nice pickles I gave you?"
The pickles had made him sick, and now there was a general laugh at his expense, but he stuck to his purpose and said:
"Well, ain't you on old maid?"
"An old maid, Charlie? Did any one ever see such a saucy boy?"
"Oh, but tell us, good earnest, ain't you an old maid?"
"Well then, good earnest, Charlie, I expect I shall be one, if I live to be old enough."
"Live to be old enough! How old do you call yourself?"
I set down my basin, counted on my fingers, thought it over and replied:
"Well, if I live two months and five days longer, I shall be sixteen."
Then there was a shout at Charlie's expense, and I resumed my work, grave as an owl. That furnished amusement until it grew stale, when Charlie came to ask me my name, and I told him it was Mrs. Snooks.
"Mrs. Snooks?" repeated a dozen men, who looked sadly disappointed, and Charlie most of all, as I added:
"Yes; Mrs. Timothy Snooks, of Snooksville, Minnesota."
This was worse and worse. It was evident no one liked the name, but all, save one, were too polite to say so, and he roared out:
"I don't believe a word of it!"
I sat at some distance with my back to him, dressing a wound; and, without turning, said,
"Why? What is the matter with you?"
"I don't believe that such a looking woman as you are ever married a fellow by the name of Snooks:"
"That is because you are not acquainted with the Snooks' family: brother Peter's wife is a much better looking woman than I am!"
"Good lookin'!" he sneered; "call yourself good lookin', do you?"
"Well, I think you intimated as much, did he not boys?"
They all said he had, and the laugh was turned on him; but he exclaimed doggedly,
"I don't care! I'm not goin' to call you Snooks!"
"And what do you propose to call me?"
"I'll call you Mary."
"But Mary is not my name."
"I don't care! It's the name of all the nice girls I know!"
"Very good! I too shall probably be a nice girl if I live to grow up, but just now it seems as if I should die in infancy—am too good to live."
"You're the greatest torment ever any man saw."
The last pin was in that bandage; I arose, turned, and the thought flashed through my brain, "a tiger." His eyes literally blazed, and I went to him, looking straight into them, just as I had done into Tom's more than once. A minnie rifle ball had passed through his right ankle, and when I saw him first the flesh around the wound was purple and the entire limb swollen almost to bursting. The ward master told me he had been given up three days before, and was only waiting his turn to be carried to the dead house. Next morning the surgeon confirmed the account, said he had been on the amputation table and sent away in hope the foot might be saved, adding:
"I think we were influenced by the splendor of the man's form. It seemed sacrilege to mangle such a leg then, before we knew it was too late."
I thought the inflammation might be removed. He said if that were done they could amputate and save him, and the conversation ended in the surgeon giving the man to me to experiment on my theory. This seemed to be generally known, and the case was watched with great interest. No one interfered with my treatment of him, and nurses designated him to me as "your man."
He was a cross between a Hercules and Apollo—grey-eyed, brown-haired, the finest specimen of physical manhood I have ever seen, and now his frail hold on life was endangered by the rage into which I had unwittingly thrown him. So I sat bathing and soothing him, looking ever and anon steadily into his eyes, and said:
"You had better call me mother."
"Mother!" he snarled, "You my mother!"
"Why, you're not old enough!"
"I am twice as old as you are!
"No, you 're not; and another thing, you're not big enough!" He raised his head, surveyed me leisurely and contemptuously, his dark silky moustache went up against his handsome nose as he sank back and said slowly:
"Still, I am large enough to take care of you and send you back to your regiment if you are reasonable: but no one can do anything for you if you fly into a rage in this way!"
"Yes! and you know that, and you put me in a rage going after them other fellows. You know I've got the best right to you. I claimed you soon as you come in the door, and called you afore you got half down the ward. You said you'd take care of me and now you don't do it. The surgeon give me to you too. You know I can't live if you don't save me, and you don't care if I die!"
I was penitent and conciliatory, and promised to be good, when he said doggedly:
"Yes! and I'll call you Mary!"
"Very well, Mary is a good name—it was my mother's, and I shall no doubt come to like it."
"I guess it is a good name! It was my mother's name too, and any woman might be glad to be called Mary. But I never did see a woman 'at had any sense!"
He soon growled himself to sleep, and from that time I called him "Ursa Major;" but he only slept about half an hour, when a nurse in great fright summoned me. They had lifted him and he had fainted.
I helped to put him back into bed, and bathed him until consciousness returned, when he grasped my wrist with a vice-like hold and groaned.
"Oh God! Oh mother! Is this death?"
I heard no more of Miss Mary, or nice girls; but God and mother and death were often on his lips.
To the great surprise of every one I quelled the inflammation and fever, banished the swelling, and got him into good condition, when the foot was amputated and shown to me. The ankle joint was ground into small pieces, and these were mingled with bits of leather and woolen sock. No wonder the inflammation had been frightful; but it was some time after that before I knew the foot might have been saved by making a sufficient opening from the outside, withdrawing the loose irritating matter, and keeping an opening through which nature could have disposed of her waste. I do not know if surgery have yet discovered this plain, common-sense rule, but tens of thousands of men have died, and tens of thousands of others have lost limbs because it was not known and acted upon. All those men who died of gun-shot flesh wounds were victims to surgical stupidity.
I nursed the cross man until he went about on crutches, and his faith in me was equal in perfection to his form, for he always held that I could "stop this pain" if I would, and rated me soundly if I was "off in ward Ten" when he wanted me. One day he scolded worse than usual, and soon after an Irishman said, in an aside:
"Schure mum, an' ye mustn't be afther blamin' de rist av us fur that fellow's impidence. Schure, an' there's some av us that 'ud kick him out av the ward, if we could, for the way he talks to ye afther all that you have done for 'im an' fur all av us."
"Why! why! How can you feel so? What difference is it to me how he talks? It does him good to scold, and what is the use of a man having a mother if he cannot scold her when he is in pain? I wish you would all scold me! It would do you ever so much good. You quite break my heart with your patience. Do, please be as cross as bears, all of you, whenever you feel like it, and I will get you well in half the time."
"Schure mum, an' nobody iver saw the likes of ye!"
A man was brought from a field hospital, and laid in our ward, and one evening his stump was giving him great pain, when the cross man advised him to send for me, and exclaimed:
"There's mother, now; send for her."
"Oh!" groaned the sufferer, "what can she do?"
"I don't know what she can do; an' she don't know what she can do; but just you send for her! She'll come, and go to fussin' an' hummin' about just like an old bumble-bee, an' furst thing you know you won't know nothin', for the pain'll be gone an' you'll be asleep."
DROP MY ALIAS.
The second or third day of my hospital work, Mrs. Gaylord, the Chaplain's wife, came and inquired to what order I belonged, saying that the officers of the hospital were anxious to know. I laughed, and told her I belonged exclusively to myself, and did not know of any order which would care to own me. Then she very politely inquired my name, and I told her it was Mrs. Jeremiah Snooks, when she went away, apparently doubting my statement. I had been in Campbell almost a week, when Dr. Kelly came and said:
"Madam, I have been commissioned by the officers of this hospital to ascertain your name. None of us know how to address you, and it is very awkward either in speaking to you, or of you, not to be able to name you."
"Doctor, will not Mrs. Snooks do for a name, for all the time I shall be here?"
"No, madam, it will not do."
I was very unwilling to give my name, which was prominently before the public, on account of my Indian lecture and Tribune letters, but I seemed to have at least a month's work to do in Campbell. Hospital stores were pouring in to my city address, and being sent to me at a rate which created much wonder, and the men who had given me their confidence had a right to know who I was.
So I gave my name, and must repeat it before the Doctor could realize the astounding fact; even then he took off his cap and said:
"It is not possible you are the Mrs. ——, the lady who lectured in Doctor Sunderland's church!"
So I was proclaimed, with a great flourish of trumpets. For two hours my patients seemed afraid of me, and it did seem too bad to merge that giantess of the bean-pole and the press and the tall woman of the platform both in poor little insignificant me! It was like blotting out the big bear and the middle-sized bear from the old bear story, and leaving only the one poor little bear to growl over his pot of porridge.
In Ward Five was one man who had been laid on his left side, and never could be moved while he lived. His right arm suffered for lack of support, and when I knelt to give him nourishment from a spoon, and pray with him that the deliverer would soon come, he always laid that arm over my shoulders. The first time I knelt there after I was known, he said:
"Ah, you are such a great lady, and do not mind a poor soldier laying his arm over you!"
"Christ, the great Captain of our Salvation," I replied, "gathers you in his arms and pillows your head upon his bosom. Am I greater than he? Your good right arm has fought for liberty, and it is an honor to support it, when you are no longer able."
But nothing else I could ever say to him, was so much comfort as the old cry of the sufferer by the wayside, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me."
Over and over again we said that prayer in concert, while he waited in agony for the only relief possible—that of death; and from our last interview I returned to the bad ward, so sad that I felt the shadow of my face fall upon every man in it. I could not drive away death's gloom; but I could work and talk, and both work and talk were needed.
I sat down between two young Irishmen, both with wounded heads, and began to bathe them, and comfort them, and said:
"If you are not better in the morning, I shall amputate both those heads; they shall not plague you in this manner another day."
Maybe my sad face made this funny, for their sense of the ridiculous was so touched that they clasped their sore heads and shrieked with laughter. Every man in the ward caught the infection, and I was called upon for explanations of the art of amputating heads, and inquiries as to Surgeon Baxter's capacity of performing the operation.
This grotesque idea proved a fruitful subject of conversation, and aided in leading sufferers away from useless sorrow, toward hope and health; and bad as the ward was we lost but two men in it.
In that sad ward one superior, intelligent young man, who was thought to be doing well, suddenly burst an artery, and ropes were put up to warn visitors and others not to come in, and we who were in, moved with bated breath lest some motion should start the life-current. While his last hope was on a stillness which forbade him to move a finger, two lady visitors came to the door, were forbidden to enter, but seeing me inside, must follow the sheep instinct of the sex, and go where any other woman had gone. So, with pert words, they forced their way in, made a general flutter, and, oh horror! one of them caught her hoops on the iron cot of the dying man. He was only saved from a severe jerk by the prompt intervention of the special nurse. They were led out as quietly as possible, but the man had received a slight jerk and a serious shock. The hemorrhage would probably have returned if they had not come in, but it did return, and the young, strong life ebbed steadily away in a crimson current which spread over the floor.
From that day until the end of my hospital work, one fact forced itself upon my attention, and this is, that with all the patriotism of the American women, during that war, and all their gush of sympathy for the soldier, a vast majority were much more willing to "kiss him for his mother" than render him any solid service, and that not one in a hundred of the women who succeeded in getting into hospitals would dress so as not to be an object of terror to men whose life depended on quiet.
Women were capable of any heroism save wearing a dress suitable for hospital work. The very, very few who laid aside their hoops, those instruments of dread and torture, generally donned bloomers, and gave offense by airs of independence.
Good women would come long distances to see dying husbands, brothers and sons, and fill the wards with alarm by their hoops. When any one was hurt by them they were very sorry, but never gave up the cause of offense, while their desire to look well, and the finery and fixings they donned to improve their appearance, was a very broad and painful burlesque. Women were seldom permitted to stay in a hospital over night, even with a dying friend, and the inhabitants were generally glad when they started for home.
It was the dress nuisance which caused nuns to have the preference in so many cases; but I could not see or hear that they ever did anything but make converts to the church and take care of clothing and jellies.
One thing is certain, i.e., that women never can do efficient and general service in hospitals until their dress is prescribed by laws inexorable as those of the Medes and Persians. Then, that dress should be entirely destitute of steel, starch, whale-bone, flounces, and ornaments of all descriptions; should rest on the shoulders, have a skirt from the waist to the ankle, and a waist which leaves room for breathing. I never could have done my hospital work but for the dress which led most people to mistake me for a nun.
In the wilderness of work I must choose, and began to select men who had been given up by the surgeons, and whom I thought might be saved by special care. Surgeon Kelly soon entered into my plan, and made his ward my headquarters. To it my special patients were brought, until there was no more room for them. That intuitive perception of the natural position of muscles, and the importance of keeping them in it, which came to me on first seeing a wound dressed, gave me such control over pain that I used to go through the wards between midnight and morning and put amputation cases to sleep at the rate of one in fifteen minutes.
In these morning walks I saw that the nurses were on duty and had substantial refreshments, saw those changes for the worse, sure to come, if they came at all, in those chill hours. Seeing them soon was important to meeting them successfully, and I succeeded in breaking up many a chill before it did serious damage, which must have proved fatal if left until the morning visit of the Surgeon. Also, in those walks I chose special cases; have more than once sat down by a man and calculated in this way:
"You may have twenty, forty years of useful life, if I can save you; I shall certainly die one year sooner for the labor I expend on you, but there will be a large gain in the average of life and usefulness; and when you risked all of your life for the country as much mine as yours, it is but just that I should give a small part of mine to save you."
Every man lived whom I elected to life, and Dr. Kelly, who knew more than any one else about my plans, and on whom I most counted for aid, has said that I saved enough to the government in bounty money, by returning men to duty who would otherwise have died, to warrant it in supporting me the balance of my life; but his statements could not always be relied upon, for he insisted that I never slept, had not been asleep during the seven weeks spent in Campbell, was a witch and would float like a cork, if thrown from the Long Bridge into the Potomac.
In selecting a man in desperate case to be saved, I always took his temperament and previous life into consideration. A man of pure life and sanguine temperament was hard to kill. Give him the excuse of good nursing and he would live through injuries which must be fatal to a bilious, suspicious man, or one who had been guilty of any excess. A tobacco chewer or smoker died on small provocation. A drunkard or debauchee was killed by a scratch.
There were two ward surgeons who disapproved of the innovation of a woman in Campbell, and especially of one held amenable to no rules. They were both in favor of heroic treatment, which I did not care to witness, and I spent little time in their wards. One of them kept a man, with two bricks tied to his foot and hanging over the foot of the bed, until he died, after ten days of a sleepless agony such as could not well have been excelled in an Inquisition; while his wife tried to comfort him under a torture she begged in vain to have remitted. The night after she started home with his body, I was passing through the ward, when I came upon a young Philadelphia Zouave in a perfect paroxysm of anguish. Three nurses stood around him, and to my inquiry "What is the matter?" replied by dumb show that coming death was the matter, and that soon all would be over; while in words they told me he had not slept for forty-eight hours.
I had one place a chair for me, sat down, and with my long, thin hands grasped the thigh stump, which was making all the trouble, drew and pressed the muscle into a natural, easy position, cooed and talked and comforted the sufferer, as I should have done a sick baby, and in ten minutes he was asleep.
Then I whispered the nurses to bring cotton and oakum, and little cushions; made them put the cotton and oakum, in small tufts, to my index fingers; and while I crooned my directions in a sing-song lullaby air, I worked in this support, gradually and imperceptibly withdrawing my hands, until I could substitute the little cushions for the force by which they held the muscle in proper position. This done, my boy-soldier slept as sweetly as ever he had done in his crib.
Next morning a nurse came running for me to hurry to him. He had slept six hours, waked, had his breakfast, and had his wound dressed, and now the pain was back bad as ever. I went, fixed the mangled muscle with reference to his change of position, made a half-mould to hold it there, and before I had finished he began an eight-hour sleep. Ten days after he was sent home to his mother, and I saw or heard of him no more.
HEROIC AND ANTI-HEROIC TREATMENT.
The other ward in which I was not welcome, adjoined that one in which my room was situated, and to reach it I must go out of doors or pass through one-half the length of that ward. In these passages I had an opportunity for studying Piemia and its ordinary treatment, and could give the men lemonade when they wanted it.
In this ward lay a young German with a wounded ankle. He had a broad, square forehead, skin white as wax, large blue eyes and yellow hair, inclined to curl. His whole appearance indicated high culture, and an organization peculiarly sensitive to pleasure or pain; but no one seemed to understand that he suffered more than others from a like cause.
Surgeon and nurses scoffed at his moans, and thought it babyish, for a muscular man over six feet to show so many signs of pain. I think that from some cause, the surgeon felt vindictive toward him, and that his subordinates took their cue from him. When I went to give him lemonade, he would clutch my hand or dress, look up in my face, and plead:
"Oh, mutter! mutter!"
But if I sat down to soothe and comfort him, a nurse always came to remind me of the surgeon's orders, and I used to go around on the outside, that he might not see and call me. When he was in the amputation room I heard his shrieks and groans, and carried a glass of wine to the door for him.
He heard my voice, and called "Mutter! mutter!"
I pushed past the orderly, ran to him, and his pleading eyes seemed to devour me as he fastened his gaze on my face. I cannot think to this day why be should have been nude for the amputation of a foot; but he was, and some one threw a towel across his loins as I approached.
Dr. Baxter said:
"No sympathy! no sympathy!"
So I stood by him, placed a hand on each side of his corrugated brow, steadied my voice and said:
"Be a man and a soldier!"
He had asked me for bread; I gave him a stone, and no wonder he dashed it back in my face. With a fierce cry he said:
"I hev been a man and a sojer long enough!"
Ah! verily had he, and much too long. Days before that he should have been "a boy again;" aye, a baby, a very infant—should have been soothed and softened and comforted with all the tenderness of mother-love; but even now, in this cruel extremity, every sign of sympathy was denied him. Some one put a hand gently but firmly on each of my shoulders, turned my back to him, took me out of the room, and I hurried away, while the air shuddered with his shrieks and groans. After he had been brought back to his place in the ward I could often hear him as I passed to and from my room, and even while I occupied it.
Once he saw me through the open door, and called, "Mutter! mutter!"
I went, knelt by him, took his hands, which were stretched appealingly to me, and spoke comforting words, while his blue eyes seemed ready to start from their sockets, as he clung to my hands with the old familiar cry:
"Oh, Mutter! Mutter!"
He was strapped down to his iron cot, about as closely as he had been to the amputation table, and the cot fastened to the floor. I had not been five minutes at his side when his special nurse hurried up and warned me to leave, saying:
"It's surgeon's orders. He's not going to have any babyin'!"
I drew my hands from the frantic grasp, took away that last hold on human sympathy, and hurried oat, while his cry of "Oh, mutter! mutter!" rung in my ears as I turned and looked on his pure high brow for the last time.
Next morning I heard he had lock-jaw, and that the surgeon was to leave.
The night after that victim of some frightful, fiendish experiment had been carried to the dead-house, I was passing through the ward, when attracted by sounds of convulsive weeping, and I found a young man in an agony of grief, in one of those sobbing fits sure to come to the bravest. He was in a high fever, and while I bathed his face and hands, I asked the cause of his outbreak, and he sobbed:
"Oh, the pain in my wound! This is the third night I have not slept, and my God! I can bear it no longer!"
It was a flesh-wound in the thigh, such an one as usually proved fatal, and while I set him to talking I began patching scraps of observation into a theory. He was from Pennsylvania, and bitterly charged his State with having done nothing for her wounded, and when I asked why he had not sent for me, he said:
"Oh, I thought you were from Massachusetts, like all the rest of them; and if my own State would do nothing for me, I would not beg. People come here every day looking for Massachusetts soldiers. Since I have been frantic here, ladies have come and stood and looked at me, and said 'Poor fellow!' as if I had been a dog. I was as well raised as any of them, even if I am a common soldier."
I thought his recovery very doubtful, and talked to draw his thoughts to the better land. To his charges against his native land, I said: "I am a Pennsylvanian; and more than that, the Governor of Pennsylvania sent me to you; bade me come to-night, that you might know he had not forgotten you."
"He did? Why, how did he know anything about it?"
"He just knows all about it, and has been caring for you all this time. I do not mean Andy Curtin. He is nothing but a subaltern; but the dear Lord, our Father in Heaven, who never forgets us, though he often afflicts us. He sent me to you now, that you might know he loves you. It was he who made me love you and care to help you. All the love and care that come to you are a part of his love."
"He wept afresh but less bitterly, and said:
"Oh you will think I am a baby!"
"Well! That is just what you ought to be. Your past life is sufficient certificate of manhood; and now has come your time to be a baby, while I am mother. You have been lying here like an engine, under a high pressure of steam, and the safety-value fastened down with a billet of wood, until there has been almost an explosion. Now just take away that stick of wood—your manhood and pride, and let out all the groans and tears you have pent in your heart. Cry all you can! This is your time for crying!"
When I had talked him into a mood to let me feel if his feet were warm, I found that wounded limb dreadfully swollen, cold almost as death, stretched out as he lay on his back, and a cushion right under the heel. Had there been no wound the position must have been unendurable. Without letting him know, I drew that cushion up until it filled the hollow between the heel and calf of the leg, and supported the strained muscle, tucked a handful of oakum under the knee, moved the toes, brushed and rubbed the foot, until circulation started, sponged it, rolled it in flannel, of which I had a supply in my basket, washed the well foot, and put a warm woolen sock on it, arranged the cover so that it would not rest on the toes of the sore leg; told him to get the new surgeon next morning to make a large opening on the lower side of his thigh, where the bullet had gone out—to ask him to cut lengthwise of the muscle; get out everything he could, that ought not to be in there; keep that opening open with a roll of bandage, so that old Mother Nature should have a trap-door through which she could throw her chips out of that work-shop in his thigh; to be sure and not hint to the surgeon that I had said anything about it, and not fail to have it done.
I left him asleep, and the next day he told me the surgeon had taken a quart of pus and several pieces of woolen cloth out of his wound, and his recovery was rapid.
COST OF ORDER.
In making molds and rests for mangled limbs, I had large demands for little cushions, and without economy could not get enough. When one just fitted a place I wanted to keep it, and to do this, must have it aired, perhaps washed. To avoid lint dressings, I hunted pieces of soft, table linen, gave to patients pieces to suit, and as the supply was short they would get nurses and surgeons to leave their pieces of linen, after dressing their wounds until I should take charge, and have them cleansed for next time. To do all this, I must use the grass-plats and railings for airing and drying cushions and rags. These plats and railings were for ornament, and there was soon a protest against putting them to "such vile uses." I had gone into the hospital with the stupid notion that its primary object was the care and comfort of the sick and wounded. It was long after that I learned that a vast majority of all benevolent institutions are gotten up to gratify the asthetic tastes of the public; exhibit the wealth and generosity of the founders, and furnish places for officers. The beneficiaries of the institutions are simply an apology for their existence, and having furnished that apology, the less said about them the better.
The surgeons of Campbell did really want its patients to be happy and get well; but it was a model institution, with a reputation to sustain; was part of a system under general laws, which might not be broken with impunity. There was no law against a man dying for want of sleep from pain caused by misplaced muscle; but the statutes against litter were inexorable as those of the Medes and Persians. The Campbell surgeons winked at my litter, until one regular inspection day, when my cushions and rags, clean and unclean, those marked John Smith, and those labeled Tom Brown, were all huddled up and stuffed en masse into the pantry closet.
I used to wonder if the Creator had invented a new variety of idiot, and made a lot in order to supply the army with medical inspectors, or, if by some cunning military device, the Surgeon-General had been able to select all those conglomerations of official dignity and asinine stupidity, from the open donkey-market of the world. Inspecting a hospital was just like investigating an Indian fraud. The man whose work was to be inspected or investigated, met the inspector or investigator at the door, showed him all he wished him to see and examine witnesses wholly in his power—when the inspected and inspector, the investigated and investigator exchanged compliments, and the public were gratified to learn that all was in a most gratifying condition of perfect order.
One day we had a particularly searching inspection, and next day nurse told me of some four new cases which had been brought in a week before, one of whom the inspectors said was past hope. I found his feet and legs with, a crust on them like the shell of a snail; had a piece of rubber cloth laid under them, and with tepid water, a good crash towel, and plenty of rubbing, got down to the skin, which I rubbed well with lard. Then with fresh towels and water at hand, I drew away the sheet in which the patient had rolled his head, and while I washed his head and arms and breast, I talked, and he tried to answer; but it was some time before he could steady his tongue and lips so as to articulate, and when he did, his first words were:
"Are you the woman that's been a-washin' my feet?"
"That is exactly what I have been doing, and much need they had of it. Do you not think you are a pretty fellow to have me come all the way from Minnesota to wash your feet?"
It was with much effort he could fix his dazed eyes on my face, and he made several pitiful attempts before he succeeded in saying:
"I think ye'r the best woman that ever I saw!"
"Ah, that is because you never saw much, away out there in Venango county, Pennsylvania, where you live. There are thousands of better women than I, running around hunting work, in this part of the country."
"Yes, indeed; and nothing for them to do!"
"I never saw none uv 'em!"
"That is because you have had your head rolled up in that sheet. Just keep your head uncovered, so you can breathe this nice, fresh air; open your eyes every little while, and you will see a whole row of those women, all hunting work!"
He seemed quite interested, and when I had done washing and given directions to a nurse to cleanse the balance of his person, I asked if there was anything more I could do for him, when he stammered:
"Not unless you could get me a cup of tea—a cup of good green tea, 'thout any milk or sugar in it. If you do, I'll pay you for it."
"Pay me for it, will you? and how much will you give me—three cents?"
"Oh, I'll give you twenty-five cents."
"Twenty-five cents for a cup of good green tea, without any milk or sugar in it!"
I called the ward to witness the bargain, said I should grow rich at that rate, and hurried off for the tea.
I had a little silver tray and tea-set, with two china cups. Mrs. Gangewer, of the Ohio Aid Society, had sent me a tin tea-kettle and spirit-lamp; folks at a distance had sent plenty of the best tea; and that little tea-tray had become a prominent feature of Campbell long before this poor fellow specified his want. I made the tray unusually attractive that day, and fed him his tea from a spoon, while he admired the tiny pot, out of which, with the aid of the kettle, I could furnish twenty cups of good tea. When I had served all in that ward who wanted tea, the first one took a second cup, and while taking it his skin grew moist, and I knew he was saved from that death of misplaced matter vulgarly called "dirt," to which well-paid medical inspectors had consigned him, while giving their invaluable scientific attention to floor-scrubbing and bed-making, to whitewashing and laundry-work.
I doubt if there were a Medical Inspector in the army who was not a first rate judge of the art of folding and ironing a sheet or pillow-slip; of the particular tuck which brought out the outlines of the corners of a mattress, as seen through a counterpane; and of the art and mystery of cleaning a floor. It did seem as if they had all reached office through their great proficiency as cabin-boys.
Next day I went to that ward with my tea-tray; and after learning that that man had been washed once more, asked him if he wanted another cup of tea.
"I'd like to have one," he stammered; "but I didn't pay you for the last one, and I can't find my wallet!"
I saw the debt troubled him, and took this as one more evidence that somewhere there were people who sold hospital stores to sick soldiers. So I took pains to explain that he owed me nothing; that the tea was his—ladies had sent it to me to give to him—and all the pay they wanted was for him to get well, and go home to his mother.
The idea that some one was thinking for him seemed to do him almost as much good as the tea.
I left Campbell next day, but on my first visit found him convalescing, and on the second visit he ran down the ward holding his sides and laughing, and I saw or heard of him no more.
LEARN TO CONTROL PIEMIA.
About ten days after I went to Campbell, I was called at midnight to a death-bed. It was a case of flesh-wound in the thigh, and the whole limb was swollen almost to bursting, so cold as to startle by the touch, and almost as transparent as glass. I knew this was piemia and that for it medical science had no cure; but I wanted to warm that cold limb, to call circulation back to that inert mass. The first thought was warm, wet compresses, hot bricks, hot flannel; but the kitchen was locked, and it was little I could do without fire, except to receive and write down his dying messages to parents, and the girl who was waiting to be his wife.
When the surgeon's morning hour came he still lived; and at my suggestion the warm compresses were applied. He said, "they feel so good," and was quite comforted by them, but died about ten o'clock. I was greatly grieved to think he had suffered from cold the last night of life, but how avoid any number of similar occurrences? There was no artificial heat in any of the wards. A basin of warm water was only to be obtained by special favor of the cooks; but they had been very courteous. The third day of my appearance among them, one looked up over the edge of the tub over which he bent, washing potatoes, and said, as I stood waiting for hot water,
"Do you know what you look like going around here among us fellows?"
"No! but nothing dreadful I hope."
"You just look like an angel, and that's what we all think; we're ever so much better since you came."
The memory of this speech gave me courage to go and lay my trouble before the cooks, who gathered to hear me tell the story of that death, the messages left for the friends who should see him no more, and of my sorrow that I could not drive away the cold on that last, sad night.
They all wiped their eyes on their aprons; head cook went to a cupboard, brought a key and handed it to me, saying:
"There, mother, is a key of this kitchen; come in here whenever you please. We will always find room on the ranges for your bricks, and I'll have something nice in the cupboard every night for you and the nurses."
This proved to be the key to the situation, and after I received that bit of metal from cook, there was not one death from piemia in any ward where I was free to work, although I have had as many, I think, as sixty men struck with the premonitary chill, in one night. I concluded that "piemia" was French for neglect, and that the antidote was warmth, nourishing food, stimulants, friction, fresh air and cheerfulness, and did not hesitate to say that if death wanted to get a man out of my hands, he must send some other agent than piemia. I do not believe in the medical theory concerning it; do not believe pus ever gets into the veins, or that there is any poison about it, except that of ignorance and indifference on the part of doctors and nurses.
FIRST CASE OF GROWING A NEW BONE.
I had searched for Minnesota men in Campbell, found none, and had been there a week, when Mrs. Kelsey told me there was one in ward ten, credited to a Wisconsin regiment; and from him I learned that he was a friend and neighbor of my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft, of Mantorville, and my conscience reproached me for not sooner finding him; but the second day Mrs. Gaylord came, as a messenger from the surgeons, to tell me I need not spend time and strength on him, as he could not be saved.
His was a thigh wound. They had thought to amputate, but found the bone shattered from joint to joint—had, with a chain saw, cut it off above the knee, and picked out the bone in pieces. There was a splinter attached to the upper joint, but that was all the bone left in the thigh, and the injury was one from which recovery was impossible. His father, a doctor, was visiting him, and knew he must die.
I went to the patient, who said:
"Dr. True, the ward surgeon has just been here, and tells me I must die!"
I sat by him fitting the measure I had been taking for two days to this new aspect of the case, and talking of death, and the preparation for it, until I thought I understood the case, when I said:
"Be ready for death, as every one of any sense should always be; but I do not intend to let you die."
"I guess you cannot help it! All the surgeons and father agree that there is no hope for me."
"But they are all liable to be mistaken, and none of them have taken into the account your courage and recuperative force; your good life and good conscience; your muscle, like a pine log; your pure breath; your clear skin and good blood. I do not care what they say, you will live; I will not let you die!"
I found Dr. Baxter, and said:
"I want you to save Corporal Kendall!"
"Corporal Kendall! who is he?"
"The man out of whose thigh you took the bone last week."
His face grew sad, but he said:
"Oh, we mean to save them all if we can."
"Doctor, that is no answer. I am interested in this man, know his friends and want to understand his case. If I can keep his stomach in good working order and well supplied with blood-making food, keep away chills and keep down pain, so that he can sleep, will he not get well?"
He laughed and replied:
"Well, I really never heard of a man dying under such circumstances."
"I can do that, doctor."
"If you can you will save him, of course, and we will give him to you."
"But, doctor, you must do all the surgery. I must not give him pain; cannot see that wound."
"Oh, certainly, we will do everything in our power; but he is yours, for we have no hope of saving him."
"Another thing, doctor; you will have him brought to Ward Four."
He gave the order at once, adding: "Put him to the right of Howard"—a young Philadelphian with a thigh stump, who was likely to die of hemorrhage, and whose jerking nerves I could soothe and quiet better than any one else.
By this arrangement the man minus a thigh bone was placed in the center of my field of labor, and under the care of Dr. Kelly; but full ten days after this arrangement was made, he came with a rueful face and said:
"We have consulted the Surgeon-General, Medical Inspector, and a dozen other surgeons outside the hospital, and they all agree that there is no hope for Kendall. The surgeons here have commissioned me to tell you, for we think you ought to know. We all appreciate what you are doing, and think you will save all your other men if you live, but you cannot stand this strain long. You do not know it; but there is a limit to your powers of endurance, and you are breaking. You certainly will die if you keep on as you have been going, and it is not worth your while to kill yourself for Kendall, for you cannot save him."
"What is the reason he cannot be saved?"
"Well, there are several reasons. First, I performed the operation, and did not do it as thoroughly as I wished. He was coming out from under the influence of the chloroform, and they hurried me. The case was hopeless, and no use to give him pain, so there are several pieces of bone which I failed to find. These are driven into the flesh, and nature in trying to get rid of them will get up such excessive suppuration that he must die of exhaustion. Then there is the thigh without a bone, and there is nothing in the books to warrant a hope that it could heal in that condition. We could not, in any case, hope for the formation of a new bone. There are re-sections of two inches, but this is the longest new formation of which we know anything, and in this case there can be no hope, because the periosteum is destroyed."
"Periosteum, doctor. What is that, again?"
"It is the bone-feeder; the strong membrane which incloses the bone, and through which it is made. In this case it is absolutely destroyed, removed, torn to shreds—gone. So there are several reasons why he cannot be saved."
"Doctor Kelly, do you intend to let him lie there and die?"
"Oh no! oh no! I will do all in my power for him. I am paid for that; it is my duty; but it is not your duty to sacrifice your own life in a vain effort to save another."
"Doctor Kelly, he shall not die; I will not let him. I know nothing about your books and bones; but he can live with one bone wanting, and I tell you he shall not die, and I will not die either."
It was a week or more after this conversation I found my patient, one morning, with blue lips and a pinched nose, and said to him:
"What is this?"
"Well, I had a chill last night."
"A chill and did not send for me?"
"You were here until after midnight, and must have some rest."
"Corporal Kendall, how dare you talk to me in that manner? You promised to send for me if there were any change for the worse; and after this I cannot trust you. Now I must stay here. Do you think I am going to lose my investment in you? Do you suppose I would work over you as I have been doing, and then drop you for fear of a little more work?"
As I passed to the kitchen I found that blue lips and pinched noses had suddenly come into fashion; that there were more of them than I had time to count; but did not, for a moment, dream of letting a man get into the graveyard by that gate.
The merry, young Irishman who had volunteered as my orderly, had a period of active service; and no more willing pair of hands and feet ever were interposed between men and death. Hot bricks, hot blankets, bottles of hot water, hot whisky punch and green tea were the order of the forenoon, and of a good many hours of night and day after it; for that victory was won by a long struggle. For ten nights I never lay down in my room; but slept, all I did sleep, lying on a cot about the center of Ward Four, and two cots from the man minus a bone. I could drop asleep in an instant, and sleep during ordinary movements; but a change in a voice brought me to my post in a moment. I could command anything in the dispensary or store-rooms at any hour of the day or night, and carried many a man through the crisis of a night attack, when if he had been left until discovered in the morning, there would have been little hope for him; and when a surgeon could have done nothing without a key to the kitchen which none of them had.
I kept no secrets from any of them: told each one just what I had done in his ward; thankfully received his approval and directions, asked about things I did not understand, and was careful that my nursing was in harmony with his surgery.
During that trial-time there was one night that death seemed to be gaining the victory in Corporal Kendall's case. Pain defied my utmost efforts and held the citadel. Sleep fled; the circulation grew sluggish, and both he and I knew that the result hung on the hour. It was two o'clock A.M., and from midnight I had been trying to bring rest. The injured limb was suspended in a zinc trough. I had raised, lowered it by imperceptible motions; cut bandage where it seemed to bind, tucked in bits of cotton or oakum, kept the toes in motion, irritated the surface wherever I could get the point of a finger in through the bandages; kept up the heat of the body, and the hope of the soul; and sat down to hold his hands and try mesmeric passes and sounds, when he turned his head on the pillow, and said:
"Even if I should get well, I'll never be fit for infantry service again."
"No, you never will."
"I might walk with that machine you talk of; but never could march and carry a knapsack! But I have been thinking. I am a pretty good engineer. You know Secretary Stanton? You might get me transferred to the Navy, and I could run an engine on a gunboat."
"That is it, exactly! You will get over this! I will have you transferred to a gunboat, and next time you will go into the Rebellion prow foremost. You ought to be at work, in time to help take Charleston."
I continued to talk, in a sing-song croone, to stroke his head, and hold his hand, until he slept, which was but a few moments after settling that transfer, and the last time I saw him, which was in '79, he got over the ground and up and down stairs, as fast as most people, his new bone being quite as good as any of the old ones, except being a little short and decidedly crooked, although the crook did not effect its usefulness or general appearance.
A HEROIC MOTHER.
James Bride, who drew me to Campbell, by asking for "something to quench thirst," was one of the thousands who died of flesh-wounds, for want of surgical trap doors, through which nature might throw out her chips. His wound was in the hip, and no opening ever was made to the center of the injury, except that made by the bullet which had gone in and staid there.
His mother came three days before he died, and being minus hoops and finery, the ward surgeon was anxious she should remain with her son, and we arranged that she should sleep in my room. There was just space between the cot and wall for the breadth of a mattress, and when the door was shut, that space was long enough, for me to lie between the door and the stand. I have never entertained a guest more cheerfully, or one by whose presence I felt more honored; yet the traveling costume was a short calico dress, strong leather shoes and blue woolen stockings, visible below the dress, a gingham sunbonnet and double-bordered cap tied under her chin.
Several richly dressed ladies came from Eastern cities to see dying relatives, but to none of them were the surgeons so thoroughly respectful, as to this plain, strong, clean, high-souled country-woman, who staid with her son, and was hailed with joy by all the men in his ward, to every one of whom she was sympathetic and helpful.
Her case was hard. She and her husband, who was old and feeble, had just three sons, two strong and vigorous, one a cripple. Their two vigorous sons enlisted together, and fell in the charge on Marie's Hill, within ten feet and ten minutes of each other. William was buried on the battle-field, and she had come to see James die in hospital.
When all was over and her boy was carried to the dead house, they brought her to me, and I have never heard such pathetic, eloquent expressions of grief as those she poured forth in that little, rough, barrack-room.
"Oh, William! William!" she sobbed, "You are lying, to-night, in your bloody grave, and your mother will never know where it is! and you, James! you were my first-born, but I cannot go to you now, where you lie in the darkness among the dead! Oh, but it is a sad story I must carry to your old father, to bring his gray hairs in sorrow to the grave. Who can we lean upon, in our old age? Who will take care of Johnny when we are gone? Oh, it is a hard, hard lot."
She wrung her hands, bowed over her knees, in a paroxysm of tears, then raised herself, threw back her head, and exclaimed. "But oh! boys dear, wouldn't I rather you were where you are this night, than that you had thrown down your guns and run!"
TWO KINDS OF APPRECIATION.
Looking down the long vista of memory, to the many faces turned to me from beds of pain, I find few to which I can attach a name, and one I seem never to have looked upon but once. It is a long, sallow face, surmounted by bushy, yellow hair; it has a clear, oval outline, and straight nose, brown eyes and a down of young manhood on the wasted, trembling lips; I knew it then, as the face of a fever patient, but not one to whom I had rendered any special service, and felt surprised when the trembling lips said, in a pitiful, pleading way.
"We boys has been a talkin' about you!"
"Have you, my dear—and what have you boys been saying about me?"
"We've jist been a sayin' that good many ladies has been kind to us, but none uv 'em ever loved us but you!"
"Well, my dear, I do not know how it is with the other ladies, but I am sure I do love you very, very dearly! You do not know half how much I love you."
"Oh, yes, we do! yes, we do! we know 'at you don't take care uv us 'cause it's your juty! you jist do it 'cause you love to!"
"That is it exactly—just because I love to, and because I want you to get well and go to your mothers."
"Yes! but the boys says you don't care about 'em when they get well."
"They do not need to have me care for them when they are well."
"Oh, yes, they do! yes, they do! an' if that's the way you're a goin' to serve me, I'll stay sick a long time."
When hospital stores came to me so fast that there was great trouble in getting them wisely distributed, Campbell lent me an ambulance to go around, see where they were needed, and supply as many as I could. I had a letter from an old Pittsburg neighbor, asking me to see his brother in Douglas Hospital, and went in an ambulance well supplied with jellies and fruit.
Douglas Hospital was an institution of which the city was proud. It had much finer buildings than any other in the city, occupied the finest residence block in the city, and had a wide reputation for grandeur and beauty and superb management. I found the halls and rooms quite as elegant as I had any reason to expect, but was surprised to find that elegance undisturbed by the presence of sick or wounded men. In one back room a wounded officer looked lonely, and they said there were other rooms used for sick soldiers, but all I saw were parlors, reception rooms, offices and sleeping apartments for surgeons, and the Lady Abbess, with her attendant Sisters of Mercy or Charity.
After we had strolled through several sumptuous apartments, we were taken out into the adjoining square, where there were large barracks as white as lime and brushes could make them, and making a pretty picture among the trees. Inside, the walls were white as on the outside, and the pictures already up, as well as those just being put up, were bright as bright could be. Indeed. I do not know how pictures could have been greener or bluer or yellower or redder, and when the show-off man called my attention to them, as calculated to make the place cheerful; I recognized their merit, but suggested that some paper blinds might be desirable to keep the sun from shining into the faces of the men who lay on the cots.
The roof or walls did not seem well calculated to keep out wind or rain, but paper blinds would ward off sunshine. From the condition of the floor, it was evident that the demon of the scrubbing brush, which has possession of all model institutions, had full sway in Douglas barracks. Pine boards could not well have been made whiter. No laundry man need have feared to own to the doing up of the bed linen and counterpanes, and science had not discovered any mode of making a bed look more like a packing box, than those in that model hospital.
What an impertinence a sick or wounded man was, in one of those nice, square beds. He was almost certain to muss and toss it, and this must have been a crowning calamity.
After the showman had shown all he cared to have me see. I sat talking with the man I had come to visit, and he said, in a whisper:
"Are there lice in all the hospitals?"
"Lice? Why, certainly not." "Well, there are plenty of them here, and they tell us they cannot be helped—that they have them in all the hospitals. Look here!"
He turned down the nice counterpane, and there, in the blanket, the disgusting creatures swarmed. I was shocked, and half rose, in the impulse to make an outcry, but he warned me not to let any one know he had told me, or it would be bad for him. I asked why he did not tell the surgeon.
"He knows all about them, and says they cannot be helped."
"You have Sisters of Charity here; tell them."
"Oh, they never do anything in the ward but walk around and talk nice, and pray with men who are going to die. They must know about them."
I walked around alone, and the show-man did not seem to like it, but I talked with the men in the cots, put my hand under the cover, found feet encrusted with the exudations of fever, until they were hard and dry as a bit of kindling wood; hair full of dust from the battle-field, and not one man who had been washed since being carried away from it; while there were vermin in every bed.
The ward-master objected to my leaving a jar of jelly with my friend. It would spoil the good order of the ward, and all delicacies were to be given into the care of the Sisters. I found one of them who was quite willing to take charge of anything I wished to leave, but was powerless in the matter of vermin. It was the ward master's business to attend to that. It was the business of the Sisters to look after the clothing when it came from the laundry, put it in order, and give it out when wanted.
My failure to get a bed for the man in the fort by applying to those in authority, made me feel that it would be useless to try that plan about the vermin; and, in my perplexity, I turned to my old friend and confidant, the public. To reach it, I wrote to the New York Tribune, giving a very mild statement of the case.
Two days after Surgeon Baxter came, with a copy of that letter, and told me he had been ordered to discharge me on account of it. I spoke of the men who must die if I left, and he was sorry but had no option. Then he bethought him that maybe I might get the Surgeon-General to permit me to remain, at least until the cases of my special patients were settled; otherwise I must leave the hospital that day. He was sorry I had dated the letter from Campbell, had it not been for this, he could use his influence to sustain me; but professional etiquette forbade him to harbor or countenance one who spoke unfavorably of a brother-surgeon. In other words, by living in a hospital I became one of a ring, bound to keep hospital secrets, and use only words of commendation in speaking or writing of anything I saw.
I took a street car and proceeded to the office of the Surgeon-General—saw the man who held the lives of my patients in his hands, ate the only piece of humble pie that over crossed my lips, by apologizing for telling the truth, and got permission to go back to the men who looked to me for life.
I have felt that I made a great mistake—felt that if I had then and there made war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt, against the whole system of fraud and cruelty embodied in the hospital service, I should have saved many more lives in the end. Even while I talked to the head of that nest of corruption, and listened to his inane platitudes about my duty as an inmate of a hospital to report abuses to him, and "the regular way of proceeding," I did want to hurl the gauntlet of an irregular defiance into his plausible face, but the pleading eyes in Campbell held me; I could not let those men die, and die they must if I must leave them.
Nobody denied the truth of my statements about Douglas Hospital, and I never learned that any one objected to the facts or their continuance. It was only their exposure which gave offense.
This letter made me an object of dread. Folks never knew what I might see or say next; and there soon arose another trouble about my living in Campbell; for Miss Dix objected, claimed that it was an infringement on her authority. Then again, there were others who could not see why there should be but one female nurse in Campbell. Dr. Baxter, by admitting me, had abandoned his ground, acknowledged that men alone could not manage a first-class hospital; and having discovered his mistake, was bound to rectify it by admitting a corps of lady nurses. He was bombarded by Miss Dix's official power, pestered by the persistant appeals of volunteers; sneered and scoffed at and worried, until he fell back on his old position, and promptly dismissed me so soon as my patients were out of danger. He was always courteous to me as a visiter, and has my lasting gratitude and respect for breaking his rules and bearing the persecution he did, that I might do the work I did, and could not have done without his effective and generous co-operation.
The proportion of thigh stumps saved, was the test of a hospital's success; and the summer I was in Campbell, we saved nineteen out of twenty; next summer Chaplain Gaylord told me they lost nineteen in twenty, and added: "Piemia has literally swept our wards."
LIFE AND DEATH.
When released from the hospital, I had neither money nor clothes, and this is all the account I can render to the generous people who sent me hospital stores. I could not answer their letters. Some of them I never read. I could only give up my life to distributing their bounty, and knew that neither their money nor my own had remained in my hands when it was necessary for me to borrow two dollars to get a dress. My cloth traveling suit was no longer fit for use, and my platform suit too good. These were all I had brought to Washington; but the best men never refused me audience because I wore a shaker bonnet, a black lawn skirt and gray linen sack. Some thought I dressed in that way to be odd, but it was all I could afford.
The Quarter-Master-General had canceled my appointment, because I had not reported for duty, but Secretary Stanton reinstated me, and I went to work on the largest salary I had ever received—fifty dollars a month. After some time it was raised to sixty, and I was more than independent; but my health was so broken that half a dozen doctors commanded me to lie on my back for a month, and I spent every moment I could in that position.
I had grown hysterical, and twice while at work in the office, broke out into passionate weeping, while thinking of something in my hospital experience, something I had borne, when it occurred, without a tear, or even without feeling a desire to weep.
In September I had twenty days' leave of absence to go to St. Cloud, settle my business and bring my household gods. There were still no railroads in Minnesota, and I was six days going, must have six to return, and one to visit friends at Pittsburg, yet in the time left, sold The Democrat, closed my home, and met Gen. Lowrie for the first and last time.
He called and we spent an hour talking, principally of the war, which he thought would result in two separate governments. His reason seemed to be entirely restored; but his prestige, power, wealth and health were gone. I tried to avoid all personal matters, as well as reference to our quarrel, but he broke into the conversation to say:
"I am the only person who ever understood you. People now think you go into hospitals from a sense of duty; from benevolence, like those good people who expect to get to heaven by doing disagreeable things on earth; but I know you go because you must; go for your own pleasure; you do not care for heaven or anything else, but yourself." He stopped, looked down, traced the pattern of the carpet with the point of his cane, then raised his head and continued: "You take care of the sick and wounded, go into all those dreadful places just as I used to drink brandy—for sake of the exhilaration it brings you."
We shook hands on parting, and from our inmost hearts, I am sure, wished each other well. I was more than ever impressed by the genuine greatness of the man, who had been degraded by the use of irresponsible power.
We reached Washington in good time, and I soon realized the great advantage of rest. Six hours of office work came so near nothing to do, that had I been in usual health I should probably have raised some disturbance from sheer idleness; but I learned by and by that the close attention demanded to avoid mistakes, could not well have been continued longer.
Several ladies continued distributing hospital stores for me all that fall and winter, and next spring I still had some to send out. When able I went myself, and in Carver found a man who had been wounded in a cavalry charge, said to have been as desperate as that of "the Light Brigade;" and who refused to take anything from me, because he had "seen enough of these people who go around hospitals pretending to take care of wounded soldiers."
I convinced him it was his duty to take the jelly in order to prevent my stealing it. Also, that it was for my interest to save his life, that I might not have to pay my share of the cost of burying him and getting a man in his place. Nay, that it was my duty to get him back into the saddle as fast as possible, that my government need not pay him for lying abed. He liked this view of the case, and not only took what I offered him, but next time I went asked for Jefferson-tie shoes to support his foot, and when I brought them said he would be ready for duty in a week.
In Judiciary Square, a surgeon asked me to give a jar of currant jelly to a man in Ward Six, who was fatally wounded.
I found the man, those in the neighboring cots and the nurse, all very sad, talked to him a few moments, and said:
"You think you are going to die!"
"That is what they all say I must do!"
"Well, I say you are not going to do anything of the kind!"
"Oh! I guess I am!"
"Not unless you have made up your mind to it, and are quite determined. Those hip wounds kill a great many men, because folks do not know how to manage them, and because the men are easy to kill; but it takes a good deal to kill a young man with a good conscience, who has never drank liquor or used tobacco; who has muscle like yours, a red beard and blue gray eyes."
I summoned both his day and night nurse, told all three together of the surgical trap-door that old Mother Nature wanted made and kept open, clear up to the center of that wound. The surgeon would always make one if the patient wanted it. I told them about the warmth and nourishment and care needed, and left him and them full of hope and resolution.
Next time I was in Judiciary, a young man on crutches accosted me, saying:
"Were not you in Ward Six, about six weeks ago?"
"Do you remember a man there, that every one said was going to die, and you said he wouldn't?"
"Well, I'm the fellow."
I looked at him inquiringly, and said:
"Well, did you die?"
He burst into uproarious laughter, and replied:
"No, but I'm blamed if I wouldn't, if you hadn't come along."
I passed on, left him leaning against the wall finishing his laugh, and saw or heard of him no more.
It was but a few days after he passed out of my knowledge that news came of the death of Gen. Lowrie. It was the old story, "the great man down," for he died in poverty and neglect, but with his better self in the ascendent. His body lies in an unmarked grave, in that land where once his word was law.
Pondering on his death, I thought of that country boy going to his father's house, with the life restored by one he knew not, even by name, and the going home of that mature man, who thought he knew my inmost soul, and with whose political death I was charged. Only the wisdom of eternity can determine which, if either, I served or injured. To the one, life may lack blessing, to the other, death be all gain.
MEET MISS DIX AND GO TO FREDERICKSBURG.
I sat down stairs, for the first time after a two weeks' illness, when Georgie Willets, of Jersey City, came in, saying:
"Here is a pass for you and one for me, to go to Fredericksburg! A boat leaves in two hours, and we must hurry!"
For several days the air had shuddered with accounts of the terrible suffering of our men, wounded in the battle of the Wilderness; and a pall of uncertainty and gloom hung over the city.
I made a tuck in a queen's-cloth dress, donned it, selected a light satchel, put into one side a bottle of whiskey and one of sherry, half a pound of green tea, two rolls of bandage and as much old table-linen as packed them close; put some clothing for myself in the other side, and a cake of black castile soap, for cleansing wounds; took a pair of good scissors, with one sharp point, and a small rubber syringe, as surgical instruments; put these in my pocket, with strings attaching them to my belt; got on my Shaker bonnet, and with a large blanket shawl and tin cup, was on board with Georgie, an hour before the boat left.
It had brought a load of wounded from Belle Plain; some were still on board, and suffering intensely from thirst, and hard, dry dressings. It was a hot day, and we both went to work giving drinks of water, wetting wounds, and bathing hot heads and hands. As Georgie passed the foot of the cabin stairs, Miss Dix was coming down, and called to her, saying:
"What are you doing here?"
She made no reply, but passed on to her work, when the irate lady turned to where I was drawing water from a cooler, and asked, in a tone of high displeasure:
"Who is that young girl?"
"Miss Georgie Willets, of Jersey City," I replied.
"And where is she going?"
"By whose authority?" she demanded.
"By authority of the Surgeon-General," I replied.
"The Surgeon-General has no authority to send a young girl down there alone."
"She is not going alone."
"Who is going with her?" she asked, tartly.
"Who are you?"
I told her, and she ceased to be insulting long enough to expostulate on the great impropriety of the proceeding, as well as to explain the total lack of any need of help in Fredericksburg. She had just returned from that city, where she had arranged everything in the most satisfactory manner. Hospitals had been established, with surgeons and nurses. There was therefore not the slightest occasion for our going further; but she was about to organize relief for the men while waiting at the Washington wharf to be taken to hospitals. Here I might be useful, and here she would be glad to have me work; but as for that handsome young girl, she wondered at me for bringing her into such a place.
Georgie was not merely handsome. She was grand, queenly; and I told Miss Dix that I differed with her about the kind of women who should go into such places. We wanted young, vigorous women—women whose self-respect and social position would command the respect of those to whom they ministered. She grew angry again, and said:
"She shall not go to Fredericksburg; I will have her arrested!"
I was kneeling beside a man whose wounds I was bathing; for I had not suspended my work to talk with her, who stood, straight as a telegraph pole, holding a bottle which she ever and anon applied to her nose; but when she reached this climax, I raised my head, looked into her face, and said:
"I shall not be sorry Miss Dix, if you do; for then I shall apply to my friends, Mrs. Abraham Lincoln and Secretary Stanton, and have your authority tested."
I went on with my work; she growled something and left the boat, but did not disturb us further.
Going down the river I grew worse, and thought I might be obliged to return with the boat, and stay at home; but consulted a surgeon on his way to the front, who talked with another, and said:
"There is no immediate danger in your case. It is only secondary hemorrhage; and with care you may go on, but must not attempt to do anything. You can, however, be of incalculable service, simply by being in Fredericksburg; can sit down and see that people do their duty. What our wounded need most, is people who have an interest in their welfare—friends. You can do a great deal toward supplying this want, this great need; but be careful and do not try to work."
After some time this surgeon brought, and introduced Col. Chamberlain, of Maine, evidently an invalid, and a man of the purely intellectual type. Two other surgeons were with him, and all three endeavored to persuade him to return to Washington, as his lack of health made it very dangerous, if not quite useless, for him to go to the front. I thought the surgeons right; and told him I feared he was throwing away his life, in an effort to do the impossible.
He explained that he was in command of a brigade of eight regiments; that in them were hundreds of his neighbors and pupils, for he had resigned a professorship in a college to enlist. Said he knew his own constitution better than any one else could know it; knew he would be stronger when he reached his post, and that the danger would be in any attempt to keep out of danger—the danger which his men must face. Turning to me he said:
"If you had eight children down there, you would go to them, if you could!"
We arranged that if he should be wounded so as to suffer a thigh amputation, he should let me know, that I might nurse him through.
At Belle Plaine, Georgie went to look for transportation, and I to the Sanitary Commission boat, where I was introduced to Mrs. Gen. Barlow and Miss Hancock, both busy furnishing hot coffee to those being embarked for Washington. Mrs. Barlow was a tall, superbly formed woman, very handsome, and full of health and spirits. She looked down on me compassionately, and said:
"Oh, you poor little thing! What ever brought you here? We have sick folks enough now! Do sit down until I get you a cup of tea!"
While I drank the tea, she stood looking at me, and said meditatively:
"Oh, you queer little thing," and hurried off to her work.
Soon a Colonel with a badly wounded head came on board, leaned against, a post and groaned. I found a basin of water and a towel, and began bathing his head, wetting those torturing dressings and making him comparatively comfortable, when she stopped in her hurried walk, looked on an instant, and exclaimed:
"Oh, you nice little thing! Now I see what you are good for! I could not do that; but you will take care of their wounds and I will feed them! That will be grand!"
Soon Georgie came to say there was no transportation to be had, but she had found a Campbell surgeon in charge of a hospital tent, and he wanted me; said he was worn out, and had plenty of work for both of us. The doctor had a large tent, filled with wounded lying on loose hay. His patients seemed to want for nothing, but he must needs give so much time to receiving and forwarding those pouring in from the front, that he needed us. He had a little tent put up for us, and that was the only night I have ever slept in a tent.
Next morning while we were attending to a Colonel, and Lieutenant Colonel, both of the same regiment, and both badly wounded and just brought in, one said to the other: "My God, if our men in Fredericksburg could have a little of this care!" "Why?" said I, "I have heard that everything possible was being done for them?"
"Everything possible!" exclaimed one, and both together began the most terrible recital of the neglect and abuse of the wounded in that horrible place—men dying of thirst, and women spitting in their faces, kicking and spurning them. We set down our basins; Georgie started in one direction and I in another, to find transportation.
The surgeon in command of the station stood superintending the loading of oats while he looked at my pass, and said he could not possibly send us, adding: "Fredericksburg is no place for a lady. It is impossible to describe the condition of things there."
"But, Doctor, I am not a lady! I am a hospital nurse. The place where men are suffering must be the place for me. I do not look strong, but you cannot think how much I can do.
"But, Madam, you forget that our army is cut off from its base of supplies, and must be furnished with subsistence, and that we have not half the transportations we need."
"Doctor, you are sending bags of oats in ambulances! I do not weigh much more than one, and will be worth six when you get me there."
He promised to send me that afternoon, but I doubted him; went to the Christian Commission tent, found a man who knew me by reputation, and told him they had better send me to Fredericksburg, or put me under arrest, for I was in a mood to be dangerous. He feigned fright, caught up his hat, and said:
"We'll get you out of this in the shortest possible space of time."
An hour after I was on the way, and Georgie a few moments in advance. I had seen bad roads in northern and western Pennsylvania, but this was my first ride over no road. We met a steady stream of such wounded as were able to walk, but comparatively few were brought in ambulances.
It was raining when we reached Fredericksburg, at four o'clock on Sabbath, and I went to the surgeon in command, reported, and asked him to send me to the worst place—the place where there was most need.
"Then I had better send you to the Old Theater, for I can get no one to stay there."
He gave me my appointment, and I went to a Corps Surgeon, who signed it, and advised me not to go to the theater—I could do nothing, as the place was in such dreadful condition, while I could be useful in many other places.
THE OLD THEATER.
This building was on Princess Ann street. The basement floor was level with the sidewalk, but the ground sloped upward at the back; so that the yard was higher than the floor. Across the front was a vestibule, with two flights of stairs leading up to the auditorium; behind the vestibule a large, low room, with two rows of pillars supporting the upper floor; and behind this three small rooms, and a square hall with a side entrance. The fence was down between the theater and Catholic church, next door. I stopped in the church to see Georgie, who was already at work there, came and left by the back door, and entered the theater by the side hall.