Page images

in the old church before mentioned. Hastily partaking of a sumptuous meal prepared by order of my host, whose safety and protection he wished to purchase by his affability and kindness, I repaired to the prison house of the wounded, with all needed bandages and dressing, accompanied by my assistant, ready for the duty assigned me. Finding the door barricaded and all within still and dark, I feared I had missed the object of my search, but after rattling at the door for a while and making known the object of my visit, I was admitted into the dark prison house of my wounded comrades. They were much pleased at my visit. Having no light nor materials for producing it, I sent my assistant into a brick mansion near by to procure one. He soon returned and reported that they said they had none for us. I had him return and tell them that unless they furnished all the light needed for the occasion, a ten pounder would be leveled at their house and fired off for their especial benefit. The assistant obeyed and soon returned with the needed light, bringing also the apologies of the household for their non-compliance with my first request, and a humble request to do them no harm. The following are the names and regiments of the wounded : William H. Brotherton, Sergeant Company G, 85th Indiana; John G. Rawley, private, Company G, 22d Wisconsin; John Baker, private, Company 1, 33d Indiana; James Burgal, private, Company D, 33d Indiana ; Jas. A. Comstock, private, 33d Indiana; Wells Gallexson, Company G, 22d Indiana ; W. C. McNett, private, Company G, 19th Michigan; Aaron J. Buckan, Company C, 19th Michigan; Edward Cromer, private, 19th Michigan; Benjamin Green, private Company I, 19th Michigan; David Dollinger, private, Company D, 19th Michigan.

These wounded men had been paroled by the enemy before being left. I found them in the dark, without fire or blankets to protect them from the cold, and with no hand of mercy to minister to their wants: They told me that as soon as they were taken by the rebels, their coats and most of their other clothing were taken by their unfeeling captors, and not satisfied with this booty, the rebels rifled the pockets of the prisoners, taking everything of value and appropriating the same to their own use. They mentioned other heartless acts perpetrated upon them.

While engaged in dressing the wounds of these men, I noticed a gentleman, dressed as a citizen, who appeared quite interested, and who gave close attention to all my professional acts, but as he asked no questions nor made any remarks his presence gave me no concern.

Finally, when I was about leaving the house he said, “Well, Doctor, you have done very well to-night. I am much pleased with the skill and ability which you have exhibited in the work performed.” I said, “Sir, will you please inform me whom I have the honor of addressing? Judge of my surprise when he informed me that my visitor was Dr. Varian, a Medical Director of the C. S. A. Before we parted he remarked to me that as a great battle was expected to come off to-morrow he wished to detail me for a particular service. This was my first interview and acquaintance, but not my last inter

view and happy experience with the “Medical Director of the Army of Kentucky.

My eleven patients were next morning placed in ambulances and taken to the general hospital at Franklin.

After a refreshing night of rest in the bed last tumbled by the rebel chief, Van Dorn, and having attended to my eleven patients previous to their leaving for the hospital, as before stated, I sought to learn what I could of the family of my loquacious and genial host. He had two sons and one son-in-law in the rebel armies; that General Van Dorn had for weeks past made Spring Hill his headquarters, stopping all the while in the house and partaking of the hospitality of this gentleman. He expressed himself as being pleased to extend to me and others the courtesy and welcome of his house, and expressed a desire that we would exert ourselves in protecting his person and property from violence, on account of his house having been the headquarters of the Confederate general and his staff

. assured him that no harm should come to him for what he had done in the past, but my earnest advice to him would be to espouse the Union

cause, which in the end was sure to triumph. How far I succeeded in turning him from the error of his way I dare not say, but judging from what I saw in the person of his daughter to whom I was introduced, and whose husband was a surgeon in the rebel army, I fear my advice was not taken according to the prescription.

Stepping aside from the narration of warlike events, I need not ask the reader's pardon for a passing notice of this lady. She was char acterized by very striking southern proclivities, and in attempting a pen picture of her I shall not indulge in any extravagant hyperbole. She was a brunette of some twenty or more years of age, possessing form and features that might be considered beautiful. Her general appearance and conversation indicated refinement and culture. She was an adept in vocal and instrumental music, of which she gave ample demonstration. She espoused the cause of the South with unusual spirit, telling what she would do if she were a man, and exhibited such zeal and pathos that I almost began to think that it was a happy thing for the Union cause that she chanced to be a woman, while at the same time, as the sequel shows, it was a misfortune to the Confederacy that she had not been a man.

The much injured husband of this spirited woman, on a recent visit home, learned facts concerning his wife and General Van Dorn that so fired his brain and crazed his mind that he rushed back to camp, entered the General's tent, on retributive justice bent, and drawing a revolver shot him dead on the spot. Then flying quickly to the Union lines, he sought protection and safety under the fag he had so long abused and insulted.

Although this roth of March was big with excitement and expectation of blood and carnage, there was but little fighting done. Had the enemy given us fight instead of retreating, our gallant 113th would have found the opportunity they had long waited for to distinguish themselves and extinguish the enemy.

How unlike are the rights and privileges in the army as shown by what fell under my observatin to-day. As our brigade was resting a short time about the middle of the day, near a farm house, a soldier noticed a well grown chicken straying too far from the barnyard, and immediately gave chase with fixed bayonet, endeavoring at each successive turn to transfix his game. Unlucky fellow!

While so intent on pursuit that he could see naught but the receding and terrified biddie, an officer, whose buttons denoted rank, with sword lifted high brought up the rear with a blow, and a threat that if that thing occurred again the offender would be made to suffer. Just as this scene closed General Baird's Chief of Staff, mounted on an elegant horse and leading its mate, rode up to the mansion door and informed the owner of the horses that as General Baird wanted the horses he would appropriate them to the use and benefit of the government, and so doing he rode of with them, notwithstanding the cries of the family.

The army failing to meet the foe, could only return to Franklin. It was, indeed, an imposing sight to witness such a formidable display of military pomp as was seen that day by terrified hundreds of inhabitants along the Columbia pike, as our long dark columns moved northward in a continuous line, which occupied two hours in passing a given point.

Stopping to recuperate and rest a little at the house of my old rebel host while the somewhat scattered forces of our column were passing through the town, I chanced, from great fatigue, to fall asleep, and no one of the family deigning to awaken me, I slept on until the entire army had passed and the rear guard was out of sight. Suddenly awakened by the cessation of noises or other causes, I sprang to my feet, and, looking out of the window, saw my perilous situation. Hastening from the house without saying “good bye” to my entertainers, I mounted my horse, and was soon dashing toward Franklin, just as a squad of mounted rebels rode into town a few rods in the rear of me. Their command to halt was disregarded, and a number of shots fired at me went wide of the mark. A ride of a few miles brought me to my place in the line of march, and the lesson I had learned by loitering on the way was not soon forgotten. Reaching Franklin, we occupied our former camps, and were soon again performing the routine duties of the every-day life of a soldier.

April 1. I wrote to General Garfield for a pass from General Rosecrans for my wife and a lady nurse to visit the camp hospital. Steward Wells, after long and faithful service, left to-day for home, on account of physical disability. Also Lieutenant Toland, being unable for duty, goes home on a leave of absence. Poor John Price died to-day. He belonged to Company C; his disease was congestion of the brain. On the 3d we were honored. by a visit from two officers of General Rosecrans' staff. They complimented us highly on the neat appearance and sanitary condition of our hospital.

George Horton, Company C, died on the 8th in the regimental hospital. His death was occasioned by congestion of the lungs. Captain David Taylor, Jr., Company B, on account of failing health, left to-day for the North. I accompanied him as far as Nashville, and, with feelings of fond regret, waved the hand of farewell to him as he passed out of the depot homeward bound.

April 18. Arthur Wharton, Company B, died to-day of typhoid fever. He leaves a wife and four little children.

May was ushered in with a little more incidents than usual, for, before the day dawned, the 113th went out in the stillness of the morning, going several miles in the direction of Spring Hill, routing two rebel camps, killing several, and taking a number of prisoners. The only loss on our part was Billie, our favorite ambulance driver, who was mentioned before as singing and whistling on a former occasion near the same place. Poor fellow; he was shot dead on his seat in the ambulance. His body was brought to camp and buried beside a large elm tree, on which I engraved his name and fate, after breaking the sad news in a letter to his mother.

My own health and strength, which began to fail in early spring, brought on by increased duties imposed by the absence of Surgeon Black from the regiment attending to the duties of Medical Director, and other responsibilities to which he was called, now rapidly grew worse, after experiencing a shock assimilating sun-stroke on the 24th day of April past, while attending duties assigned me at Nashville, that Assistant Surgeon Tipton had to be recalled from other duties and assigned to duty in the regiment. This change took place on the 3d of May. I remained on duty in the regiment, notwithstanding my feeble health, and gave assistance to Surgeon Tipton as best I could during the pendency of my resignation, which was tendered on account of physical disability, at the suggestion and by the advice of Colonel Mitchell and other officers of the command. - My honorable discharge was received from Headquarters on the 13th and dated the uth, making me once more a free man.

On Monday, May 18, 1863, I bade farewell to many warm friends in camp, and, in company with my wife and hospital nurse, Langstaff, who went home on sick leave, I started for Nashville, where I arrived the same evening, en route for Northern Ohio, where I arrived in safety on the 26th day of May, 1863.

In closing this hurriedly written sketch of my nine months' service with the 13th O. V. I., I tender many grateful and heartfelt thanks to all the officers and enlisted men of that regiment for the respect and kindness universally shown me, and I shall ever cherish their friendship and acquaintance, which now, after a lapse of twenty years, seems sweeter, purer and dearer. Could my health and strength have held out, how happy I would have been to have gone on to the end and shared in greater honors so bravely won, but I must content myself in appropriating only a limited share of the honor and glory encircling the brow of the many brave boys of one of Ohio's favorite regiments, who fought so bravely to the end of the war.

First Asst. Surgeon, 113th O. V.I.



ANNAPOLIS, MD., December 5, 1863. . Mr. William Winslow and others :

You already know that I have been a prisoner and am now free. Yes, it is all over again, and I would lose my right arm, yea, rather would I lose life itself than trust myself to the tender mercies of the rebel government.

I will give you a brief, unvarnished account of my captivity, and while I would not appeal to your sympathy on my own behalf, for with me it is all over, but there are yet more than 12,000 loyal Union soldiers still enduring the horrors and indignities I here describe.

Soon after our regiment became engaged at Chickamauga, September 20, 1863, I was struck by a minnie ball which passed entirely through my left breast, and just under the bone of my left arm where it joins to the shoulder. I was taken to the rear, and in the retreat later in the day I was left at a citizen's house about seven miles from Chattanooga, and four or five miles from the field of battle. Here I remained all night. There were 150 of our wounded at and near this place, and only enough ambulances could be had to carry away fifty at a time. Two trips had already been made and we were waiting for their return, when a squad of rebel cavalry rode up and we were prisoners. Lieutenant Wheelock was of the original number, but he was taken away early in the morning by our ambulances. He was very badly wounded and could scarcely speak when he left.

The number who fell in the enemy's hands was fifty-three wounded and thirty-four well men who were left to attend the wounded. Besides these there were four Confederates.

The first thing our captors did was to march twenty-eight of our well men to the rear of their army, leaving six to care for us, the wounded. Being inside the rebel line we were left to shift for ourselves. The lady at whose house we were, gave us what we did get to eat, but she could do but little to supply the wants of fifty men. Here I remained a whole week. The rebels gave us nothing to eat, and even refused us an ear of corn to parch. Quite a number of the wounded died for the lack of proper medical attention.

Having no prospect before me but death by starvation and lack of care, I struck off into the woods, hoping by the utmost caution I might avoid the troops of the enemy and find a house where I might get something to satisfy my appetite. I was so weak as to be bardly able to walk, but at the close of the first day I found myself in the rear of the rebel infantry pickets. I stopped at a house, got

*The writer of this sketch died from the effects of his imprisonment, December 31, 1863.

« EelmineJätka »